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Google’s New Privacy Policy Allows Ads to Follow You Everywhere

By , October 23rd, 2016 | 3 Comments »

Google New Privacy Policy
Google has become a leader in advertising since the company bought DoubleClick in 2007. Now Google targets advertising through what people search and websites they commonly visit. Google’s new privacy policy will allow Google to get even more specific with the ads that appear on your internet browser.

When the company purchased DoubleClick Google’s founder, Sergey Brin, said privacy would be the company’s number one concern. For the past nine years Google kept DoubleClick’s database of web-browsing records completely separate from Google’s database. This was a promise Google made to DoubleClick when the business deal was made. Google, however, quietly got rid of that last section of the privacy policy stating that the company would keep the two databases separate.

What Does Google’s New Privacy Policy Mean?

DoubleClick, when purchased, was a completely separate database and was kept separate from the data Google has collected from Gmail and other accounts. This summer when Google got rid of the last line in the privacy statement it replaced it with a new line that states browsing habits from accounts through DoubleClick “may be” combined with data from Google.

This change has been enabled for all new Google accounts since the line was altered. Older Google accounts were prompted via email to opt-in to the new privacy policy over the summer.

So, what does that mean for Google users? Not much will change. According to ProPublica, the only notable change will be that the DoubleClick ads that appear on your browser currently may be customized. This means that you may see your name or other information Google knows about you on the advertisements on the side of the page. It also opens up the information Google is able to gather from you to produce ads. Advertisements may be able to be constructed of emails, websites they visit and the searches they perform.

Controversy About Google’s New Privacy Policy

Connecting data from web browsing habits to someone’s personal information has been a controversial topic for years. In 2000 the online advertising industry formed the Network Advertising Initiative. This initiative served to outline ethical codes for online advertising. This promised to provide consumers a notice when their data was collected for ads and the option to opt out of allowing your data to be collected.

Since then most online ad tracking had been anonymous (for the most part). When DoubleClick was bought by Google in 2007 the privacy policy stated, “DoubleClick’s ad-serving technology will be targeted based only on the non-personally-identifiable information.” This did not change until 2012.

In 2012, Google changed the policy to allow some of your search information to be used. When changes were made four years ago it simply allowed Google to share data between different Google services (Gmail, search, etc.). It kept everything from double click separate. However, now people may be personally identified by the advertisements on the page in front of them.

Google is Changing Advertising

Google New Privacy Policy
This move by Google is a big blow to something the online ad industry has been trying to convince internet users of for some time: that web tracking is mostly anonymous. In more recent years Facebook and other websites have been trying to combine web tracking with the names of actual internet users. Until a few months ago, however, Google held the line on the anonymity of advertising.

Google being the last huge website to hold the line on privacy where advertising is concerned was a pretty big deal as the company holds the largest internet database.

Paul Ohm, a professor of Privacy and Technology, said, “The fact that DoubleClick data wasn’t being regularly connected to personally identifiable information was a really significant last stand. It was a border wall between being watched everywhere and maintaining a tiny semblance of privacy,” Ohm said. “That wall has just fallen.”

Why is Google’s Privacy Policy Changing?

Andrea Faville, a spokeswoman for Google, stated that the new privacy policy was a update to adjust to smartphone users. “We updated our ads system, and the associated user controls, to match the way people use Google today: across many different devices,” Faville wrote in an email. She also noted that the change is optional for users. If you don’t opt-in you will see no change.

If you were an existing Google user you may have supported the changes in the privacy policy without really knowing it. Google would have prompted you to opt-in with phrasing like “Some new features for your Google account.”

New features outlined in the new policy didn’t receive much attention at the time. In all reality, it gives the company a different type of control over the type of ads you see around the internet.

If you would like to opt-out of Google’s new privacy policy, visit the “Activity Controls” on Google’s “My Account” page. Uncheck the box next to “Include Chrome browsing history and activity from websites and apps that use Google services.”

Photo: SEO  and Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí

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  • Mia Zue says:

    That may have been a bad move since it’s already annoying as it is.

    • Alexa Mason says:

      From an advertising standpoint, banner ads have become increasing ineffective, so google is probably trying out new ways to build revenue.

  • AverageJoe says:

    Anyone thinking “Enemy of the State”? Gene Hackman living in a Faraday cage? Big data company corruption is interpreting how users use Google when they pretty much own 80% of the WWW. You are directed like a rat in a maze. Google’s CEO is a Nazi as is Zuckerberg. I block both companies in my HOST file yet they will track you through every possible connection to every person you know.I would boycott any ads based on the unethical practices from either company. Where is the FTC when you need them? The Feds are so reliant on Google I expect Google will “hire” our next President. This is supposedly the land of the Free, and people are enslaving themselves by using these companies. Why does Europe get it,and we do not?


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