Google’s Screenwise Project Suggests You Money If You Give Up Your Privacy

Google has announced that it will start paying users to share their search history as part of a new project called Screenwise.

“As a panelist, you'll add a browser extension that will share with Google the sites you visit and how you use them,” suggests the searching giant. Photo: ekai/Flickr

Though there hasn’t been any official announcement yet, Google has a signup page which explains that Google to create a panel of people to “learn from you, and others like you, will help us improve Google products and services and make a better online experience for everyone.”

However, there are a few requirements for joining this project. “You must be 13 or older, have a Google Account (or sign up for one), and be ready to use the Google Chrome browser,” says the page.

Google also explains how it works and highlights the possible profit for user: “What’s in it for you? Up to $25 in gift cards. Our panel management partner, Knowledge Networks, will give you a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card code instantly when you sign up and download the Google Screenwise browser extension. Then you’ll get additional $5 Amazon.com Gift Card codes every three months for staying with it.”

According to eWeek, the searching giant said it will evaluate whether or not it will extend the codes for participation in Screenwise project that is to continue for 12 months. People who want to try Screenwise must submit their email address to Google, which will advise those inquirers when registration opens.

“Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion,” claims the page. The panel-management specialist is distributing the Amazon gift card codes upon sign-up and thereafter.

When asked about the new project, a Google’s rep said: “Like many other Web and media companies, we do panel research to help better serve our users by learning more about people’s media use, on the Web and elsewhere.”

“This panel is one such small project that started near the beginning of the year. Of course, this is completely optional to join. People can choose to participate if it’s of interest (or if the gift appeals), and everyone who does participate has complete transparency and control over what Internet use is being included in the panel. People can stay on the panel as long as they’d like, or leave at any time,” he added.

Screenwise news comes as Google is facing attacks from Congress about changes its privacy policies, which on March 1 will consolidate product policy for 60 Web services, each of which may share user data with the other.

Google provided this disclaimer for Screenwise: “Google will not save your email address or associate it with any other personally identifiable information. Knowledge Networks will use your email address to send you information from info@screenwisepanel.com in the next several days with information on how to participate. Knowledge Networks will not share your email address with anyone outside authorized staff and/or third parties to provide support or maintenance to you.”

However, Chrome will continue to maintain its own privacy policy. Users should remain wary as they are providing plenty of information from tracking IP addresses, cookies and other information related to users’ Web-surfing habits.

A few days ago the company finally released the beta version of its Chrome app for Android phones and tablets. Unfortunately the app only works on devices running the most recent version of the Android OS, Ice Cream Sandwich on which just one percent of devices is built.

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