Privacy: How safe is the Alexa Toolbar


My Alexa rankings were dropping like anything for the last few weeks without any kind of explanations or reasons. In a bid to increase my rankings, I decided to try the recently released Alexa Plugin for firefox. I was using the Search Status plugin earlier which was pretty nifty giving me a lot of informations about the sites I visit like WhoIs and other site details.

When I read the Privacy Policy of the Alexa Sparky plugin, here is what I found:

ALEXA’S TOOLBAR SERVICE COLLECTS AND STORES INFORMATION ABOUT THE WEB PAGES YOU VIEW, THE DATA YOU ENTER IN ONLINE FORMS AND SEARCH FIELDS, AND, WITH VERSIONS 5.0 AND HIGHER, THE PRODUCTS YOU PURCHASE ONLINE WHILE USING THE TOOLBAR SERVICE.

What do you guys think about this? I am not sure if I want to be using this toolbar. I know Alexa is a really reputed company have all required security on their data, but the net never was, is or even will be secure forever! Ebay was hacked, Amazon was and a lot of others were too.

Or am I just being paranoid? Do share your thoughts 🙂

9 thoughts on “Privacy: How safe is the Alexa Toolbar”

  1. hi Martin,

    Alexa rankings is mainly for webmaster blogs and other sites where the visitors use the alexa toolbar to visit that particular site. Usually sites which have general traffic will not have an high alexa ranking even if they have good traffic. So don’t bother with alexa for sites like yours.

    Also, the widgets and redirections do help, but only to an extent…..the real competition starts from sub 100,000 ranks….

  2. Where I work, Alexa is on the restricted site list. No one is allowed to have the toolbar installed on their computer and the site is blocked by our firewall.

  3. Notice that the agreement was last updated in 2003. If you scroll down, under the heading

    Does Alexa collect personally identifiable information?

    It says

    “Although these information logs may contain personally identifiable information, Alexa does not attempt to correlate cookie numbers, usage paths, shopping paths, Amazon.com purchases, or demographic information to your e-mail address and does not attempt to determine the identity of any Alexa user by analyzing this information, except as required by subpoenas, court orders or legal requirements.”

    You can look in public records to see if they’ve ever been subpoenaed. Maybe someone should look at the HTTP traffic between Sparky and Alexa.

  4. true bob roberts, its hgh time someone check it up. I find it very disturbing that something like alexa can cause me problems! I have removed the toolbar long back and now use only the search status plugin for firefox.

  5. 🙁 Bottom line: it is unsafe. Looking at their privacy policy, it says

    How does Alexa share the information it collects?
    We provide “stripped” usage path information, demographic information,
    and shopping path information to Amazon.com, researchers, and other
    third parties. ”
    We also provide the stripped usage path information to the nonprofit
    Internet Archive (www.archive.org), which is building a “library” of
    the Web.

    ´stripped´ usage path information includes part of IP address, full URL visited, time and duration. Note that they deliverately say we do NOT INTEND to identify users, but they are not saying they don´t identify users per se. They make them available for public via archive.org

    If this is not violation of privacy, what would be??

  6. ❗ ❗

    I had Alexa toolbar a while ago, and as Erik says, Archive.org has *all* – including my search queries and words that I entered in forms, on their website. How spooky is that! I contacted Alexa but they just ignore my email.

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