Google Teller: the browser makes noise every time Google receives data
To better demonstrate the amount of data Google accumulates during a browsing session, Dutch software developer and entrepreneur Bert Hubert created Google Teller.
The browser extension beeps (rather a classic sound modems make when transferring data) whenever a connection to Google is established to transfer data to the company. It can start even before a website is loaded, if Google is the default search engine. Then, beeps may occur when a site is loaded, after a site has loaded, or when site elements are moved or selected.
To use the extension, simply install it in firefoxChrome or compatible browsers, and visit sites as you normally do.
To note: I couldn’t find the extension in the Chrome Web Store. I tried various searches and it didn’t work. Hubert confirmed that it is also available for Chrome.
Whenever a site or browser connects to Google to send data packets to the company, the extension gives you an audio cue; this happens when you type the address or the search bar, when the page loads, when you move the mouse over elements on a web page, and also after the site initially loads in the browser. Some sites refresh advertising at regular intervals, which usually means new connections to ad servers on the Internet.
Most of the time, when you hear a beep when hovering the mouse over an element of the site, it is a connection to Google Analytics that is established. Many sites use Google Analytics to track website visits, how a website is used, and website errors.
Hubert notes that Google Cloud users are excluded by the extension, but other connections to major Google sites and servers are covered by the browser extension. IP addresses were taken from an official Google support page listing them,
A visit to YouTube, one of Google’s core properties, creates an almost endless stream of audio cues. Testing the extension on Google’s own sites can be a bit unfair, but most sites you visit during regular browsing sessions submit data to Google in one way or another.
The extension does not reveal what data is submitted. Not all logins are necessarily linked to tracking, but for each of them, Google obtains information about the user and the browser/site from which the login originates.
Some sites become unusable when the extension is activated; this is the case of YouTube which constantly connects to Google’s servers. The extension does not have the option to exclude certain properties, which would help with this.
Google Teller is a smart extension that can serve as a wake-up call for Internet users. The extension could be extended with Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft servers to highlight the involvement of these companies on the Internet.
It needs an exception list and maybe a toggle to easily turn it on or off.
Now you: What do you think of Google Teller?