Websites such as Google use information collected from their users to provide content that has been custom-tailored to them, including search results and ads. They also use that information to enhance the browsing experience and to enhance the quality and security features of their services.
Websites utilize cookies, which are small text files saved on the user’s hard drive, to glean information. By analyzing various preferences, data and settings, websites modify their content to be in accordance with the collected information. If a user selects a specific language, a website will provide that user with content in the selected language across all of its services. For example, Google uses the Google Analytics service to accomplish this task. It bases its modifications on all information except sexual orientation, race, religion and health.
Websites typically use profile information and email content to provide protection against spam and malware. This allows them to detect and block email messages that contain automated content with links to potentially harmful websites. Users can protect their privacy by regularly clearing the cookies from their hard drives or limiting the ability of websites to store them. Alternatively, they can use Web browsers that obfuscate the communication process by bouncing the data across a distributed network. Google allows its users to control what types of information they want to share with others by editing privacy settings through their Google accounts.