Google to Pay Users to Browse Web But There's a Catch...
Google Inc. is offering web users $25 a year to browse the web so Google can monitor their browsing habits in detail.
(IBTimes) -- 02/13/2012 --

Google Inc.  is offering web users $25 a year to browse the web so Google can monitor their browsing habits in detail.

Under Google's Screenwise Project, users will be paid up to $25 in Amazon gift cards and a $5 voucher after they download a browser extension in Google Chrome that will allow the browser to keep track of their Internet activity.

"Google is building a new panel to learn more about how everyday people use the internet," the company said on the Screenwise Project page.

"As a panelist, you'll add a browser extension that will share with Google the sites you visit and how you use them. What we learn from you, and others like you, will help us improve Google products and services and make a better online experience for everyone."

The service was launched with little fanfare last week but the service is already in high demand with the project screen page saying that firm has been "overwhelmed" at the moment.

"We appreciate and are overwhelmed by your interest at the moment," the sign-up page said. "Please come back later for more details."

Tech blogs have already questioned the timing of this program especially after Google's troubles with its privacy policy. Google is planning to change its privacy policy starting from March 1. The new policy will allow the search engine giant to share information from user accounts over Google services like YouTube and Gmail.

Unlike Google's privacy policy changes, the Screenwise Project is completely opt-in. Participants have to be over 13 to join and those under 18 will need parental consent before they can sign-in. Screenwise has been quick to defend the project saying that it was merely market research.

"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," the company said in a statement to PC Pro "This panel is one such small project that started near the beginning of the year.

"People can choose to participate if it's of interest 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."

Google hasn't released details about what information it is gathering through the project.

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