Google on Wednesday officially announced its entry into the fray of contextualized advertising — serving up advertisements in accordance with a user’s prior Web-surfing habits. The move, which has raised alarm in the privacy community, carries an unprecedented privacy twist: Google users will now be able to see and edit the information the company collects about them.

That strategy may mean more effective, targeted advertisements, but one might wonder why any consumer would join an effort to lure him or her into spending more.

Google Inc. is joining the behavioral ad targeting crowd on Wednesday, but with a privacy twist — it’s going to let users see and edit information it has collected about them.

Most Google competitors, including Yahoo Inc., are already showing advertising based on users’ previous online activities, but this form of targeting has upset privacy advocates and some members of Congress.

In addition to being the first major company to give users the ability to see and edit the information that it has compiled, Google is adopting the practice of competitors like Yahoo in letting users opt out of what it is calling “interest-based advertising.”

Google said that it will segment users along 20 categories and nearly 600 subcategories, but won’t create categories for certain hot-button privacy interests, including race, religion, sexual orientation or certain types of financial or health concerns.

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