Google pays users to lay bare their web use

Google Screenwise
The Screenwise data collector is watching you

Google has set up a program to accurately assess how people are using their browsers, including exactly which sites they visit.

As an incentive to take part, the company is offering participants a US$5 Amazon voucher when they sign up, and another every three months.

That trickle of Amazon vouchers is set to dry up after a year, with a current maximum of $25 in vouchers stated by Google, though that will be re-evaluated later if it decides to continue the program.

Furthermore, an Ars Technica reader has flagged up that Google has been offering members of Knowledge Networks, a survey and market research company, the opportunity to take part in a more lucrative, but more invasive scheme.

Black box recorder

While the basic $5 every three months setup uses a Chrome browser extension to send web surfing habits back to the Google mothership, the Knowledge Networks participants will be sent a Screenwise Data Collector.

This black box is a Wi-Fi-enabled router that monitors the "household's web access", but excludes "other devices" like game consoles.

For this more comprehensive monitoring program Google is offering $100 for signing up and $20 every month for up to a year.

It looks like Google has stopped taking signups for the basic program, while the more lucrative one is open to just 2,500 Knowledge Networks members.

Would you want to hand over your browsing habits to the big G for cash? Let us know.

From Google, Ars Technica