What data and cookie data will be collected when searching?

Cookies and Data

Since we are using Google and embedding their software, we are dependent on what they collect.

To minimise tracking, we set the tracking to a minimum by disabling Google’s Personalized Ads mode. The available modes for Personalized Ads are true or false. We chose for false. As Google describes:

Specifies whether users have consented to allowing the publisher to share personal information with Google for the purpose of personalized advertising.

true Returns query targeted ads and some ads that may be targeted with the user’s Google cookies. If the user is located in the European Union, the user must first consent to allowing your site to share personal information with Google for the purpose of personalized advertising.

false Returns only query targeted ads. This will not return any ads that are targeted with the user’s Google cookies. If a user has declined consent for allowing your site to share personal information with Google for the purpose of personalized advertising, you must set this value to false.

So, it seems that no personal data is shared with Google for personalized advertising.

As Google describes about personalized ads.

Non-personalised ads are ads that aren’t based on a user’s past behaviour. They’re targeted using contextual information, including coarse (such as city-level) geo-targeting based on current location and content on the current site or app or current query terms. Google disallows all personalised targeting, including demographic targeting and user list targeting.

Although non-personalised ads don’t use cookies or mobile ad identifiers for ad targeting, they do still use cookies or mobile ad identifiers for frequency capping, aggregated ad reporting, and to combat fraud and abuse. Therefore, you must obtain consent to use cookies for those purposes where legally required, such as in certain countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) per the ePrivacy Directive. Google does not require you to obtain consent for using the browser’s Trust Token API to combat fraud and abuse. 

Source: Google

The government of the Netherlands (where Search For Trees is based in), gives the following information about cookie information and consent:

Explicit consent

You will need your visitors’ explicit consent to set so-called tracking cookies. These cookies are able to keep track of your visitors’ surfing behaviour and therefore enables you to tailor your advertisements. Please note that tracking cookies often collect sensitive personal data.

No consent

You do not need your visitors’ consent if you do not store any sensitive personal data. Examples are:

– Functional cookies: used to make your website function properly, such as recording the contents of a shopping cart.
– Analytical cookies: used for collecting anonymous information about the use of your website. The information is used only to improve your website’s quality and functionality. Note: You are still required to inform your visitors about these cookies..
– A/B testing cookies: used to determine which version of a given commercial or website is more appreciated by visitors.
– Affiliate cookies / performance cookies: used to determine which advertisement affects the consumer’s purchase decision.

Source: Business.gov.nl

As far as we can see, the cookies that Google places are for functional and analytical use and not for personalization. That is why we do not have a cookie consent popup, but only a cookie information notice.

What data do we collect?

We create a cookies for each visitor. Sometimes cookies may not be set if a visitor is probably a bot. We use these cookies to measure how often the visitor searches.

Further we collect some basic information like the visitor’s country and/or city (based on the ip-address with the last octet removed), referrer url, browser and version, device type, operating system and version, and the amount of trees planted. And some basic usage metrics like if the visitor installed the browser extension and/or app. With the amount of visitor searches collected we can calculate the amount of trees planted.

And finally, Google gives us the most frequent searched terms on a collective level. They mention this on their forum about CSE (Programmable Search Engine):

CSE does not track all the query terms generated against your CSE engine. CSE will keep a track of only those popular query terms which are searched more frequently on your site without affecting our user’s privacy. If enough users are using the same search terms, you will be able to see the most popular queries for your search engine. If CSE is able to identify popular queries generated towards your search engine, it will be displayed the popular queries in CSE control panel > Statistics & Logs > Stats page.

More on the Google Forum, written by a Google Forum Community Manager

Future plans to improve privacy

We would love to create a future proxy so that we do not have to embed the code anymore on our website, but so far we were not able to receive access to an unlimited programme.

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