Google has been Quietly Sharing Personal User Data with its Advertising Network [Report]
Ever since the rise of more personal devices, the online advertising market has been gradually shifting to more dynamic content for driving revenues. Various networks and social conglomerates have invaded user privacy in some or the other way for fabricating more indulging advertisements. However, the biggest search engine, Google has always maintained a firm wall between its primary ad network, DoubleClick and the data it collects from the services such as Gmail. But not anymore.
According to a new report from ProPublica, Google seems to have to finally buckle under and has quietly updated its terms and conditions which now states that the browsing habits extracted from DoubleClick’s massive database “may be” combined with what the company learns from the use Gmail and other tools. The alteration completely contradicts with what Sergey Brin told back in 2007 when Google acquired DoubleClick. He said that the company’s “number one priority when we contemplate new kinds of advertising products.” For nearly a decade, they did hold on to that commitment firmly and keep personally identifiable information separate from the ad network’s records.
The new change is by default, turned on for new Google accounts and for older users, Google have prompted to opt-in to the change sometime in summer which obviously everyone ignored. Google was one of the primary names who hadn’t still taken user data into account for generating ads on its search engine and with this move, the online monetization industry will definitely face a major impact. Social giants such as Facebook have been doing this since the beginning.
Paul Ohm, faculty director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law, commented further on the issue, “The fact that DoubleClick data wasn’t being regularly connected to personally identifiable information was a really significant last stand,” said Paul Ohm, faculty director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law. It was a border wall between being watched everywhere and maintaining a tiny semblance of privacy that wall has just fallen.”
The crucial reason behind this massive revision is for empowering the smartphone era as put by a Google spokesperson. Google did overhaul its policies in 2012, however, that was only for sharing personal data across its services like Gmail and search, not with DoubleClick. Fortunately, though, this is entirely optional and you can still change it in your accounts’ settings.
For opting out of Google’s new web tracking algorithms, head over to Activity controls on Google’s my account page and uncheck the item that says “Include Chrome browsing history and activity from websites and apps that use Google services.”