Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 17th Feb 2012 15:36 UTC, submitted by bowkota
Privacy, Security, Encryption Well, paint me red and call me a girl scout: Facebook, Google, and several other advertising networks are using a loophole to make sure third party cookies could still be installed on Safari and Mobile Safari, even though those two browsers technically shouldn't allow such cookies. Google has already ceased the practice, and in fact, closed the loophole in WebKit itself months ago.
Thread beginning with comment 507634
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Tony Swash
Member since:
2009-08-22

I know one can get too paranoid and see patterns and intent in a simple fuck up, I am not generally a conspiracy theorist, but episodes like this one with Google circumventing user privacy settings can reflect deeper truths about a company's core dynamic. I do think this episode reveals something about Google and privacy and what the core dynamic of Google's business is, about what drives Google. I don't mean what are it's professed ideals but rather what are the central dynamics and drives of its core business model.

The way Google makes money, the only way it makes money, it's almost sole source of income, is to sell advertising. And Google can sell that advertising because it offers the buyers of the advertising the very special added benefit of targeting that advertising, of putting ads before people that are cleverly and effectively tailored to match the interests and concerns of the individual viewer. And Google does that by watching and recording what people do on the internet, what they search for, what they watch, what they read and receive and in their emails, who they network with, etc and then recording and storing that behaviour at the level of the individual so it can be interrogated by Google's advertising distribution algorithms. Being able to watch what people do and record it at the level of an individual is absolutely central to the very core of Google's corporate identity.

Without being able to watch and record what people do Google no longer has a product to sell. This means that Google will always view areas of activity on the internet which it cannot record and inspect and record as a threat, to be broken into or routed around. This is not about ethics or the simplistic and somewhat childish notions of good and bad, it is about basic business logic. For Google opening up, inspecting, recording information and behaviour is really just one big technical problem and all Google wants to do with this information is just make things better for the user, to make the search results and the advertising that each of us sees more relevant, better.

Google has to be able to watch enough of us enough of the time so that the adverts it places are accurately tailored to each of us. Then it has a product it can sell. If it cannot watch and record at the level of individuals Google has no business and nothing to sell.

Remember: if the product is free, You are the product.

Reply Score: 4

Nth_Man Member since:
2010-05-16

Remember: if a greedy one has your data, you are a product.

Whether it's a "gratis" service or not. :-|

Reply Parent Score: 4

mantrik00 Member since:
2011-07-06

But every major web based service provider either already does or aspires to do the same. Google is only ahead in the game.

Free products need to be supported by ads (which are generally determined algorithmically) but that does not necessarily mean that users are not being tracked in case of paid products/services. The service providers still have the same kind of data about the activities of paid users'. Only, in case of paid services, ads aren't being served. But the user's usage behaviour remains in the custody of the service provider whether you are paid user or a free user and it is likely to be used for purposes other than serving ads.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

But every major web based service provider either already does or aspires to do the same. Google is only ahead in the game.

Free products need to be supported by ads (which are generally determined algorithmically) but that does not necessarily mean that users are not being tracked in case of paid products/services. The service providers still have the same kind of data about the activities of paid users'. Only, in case of paid services, ads aren't being served. But the user's usage behaviour remains in the custody of the service provider whether you are paid user or a free user and it is likely to be used for purposes other than serving ads.


Company's other than Google collect user data, often this is done as a way to add value (from the company's point of view) and generate additional income alongside income generated by products or services they sell. In the case of Google user date is a core product, a product absolutely central to Google's ability to make money. Collecting user data in order to target advertising is the basis on which Google makes all it's money. This means that the drive to collect user data (and to surmount any obstacle to collecting user data) is very, very strong and fundamental in Google and will always be very active.

Reply Parent Score: 1