Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 22nd Oct 2016 09:21 UTC

When Google bought the advertising network DoubleClick in 2007, Google founder Sergey Brin said that privacy would be the company's "number one priority when we contemplate new kinds of advertising products."

And, for nearly a decade, Google did in fact keep DoubleClick's massive database of web-browsing records separate by default from the names and other personally identifiable information Google has collected from Gmail and its other login accounts.

But this summer, Google quietly erased that last privacy line in the sand - literally crossing out the lines in its privacy policy that promised to keep the two pots of data separate by default. In its place, Google substituted new language that says browsing habits "may be" combined with what the company learns from the use Gmail and other tools.

The web, by definition, isn't private. The web is like a busy shopping street; you wouldn't shout your secrets for everyone to hear there either. The sooner people accept this fact, the better they'll be for it. Note that I'm not saying I'm happy about this fact - I'm just saying it is what it is. There's nothing any of us can do about it, until authorities or regulators start stepping in.

That being said, Google published a statement about this, stating this change is opt-in.

Our advertising system was designed before the smartphone revolution. It offered user controls and determined ads' relevance, but only on a per-device basis. This past June we updated our ads system, and the associated user controls, to match the way people use Google today: across many different devices. Before we launched this update, we tested it around the world with the goal of understanding how to provide users with clear choice and transparency. As a result, it is 100% optional - if users do not opt-in to these changes, their Google experience will remain unchanged. Equally important: we provided prominent user notifications about this change in easy-to-understand language as well as simple tools that let users control or delete their data. Users can access all of their account controls by visiting My Account and we're pleased that more than a billion have done so in its first year alone.

You can opt-out in the Activity Controls section of your Google account settings.

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You can't trust Google
by Macka on Sat 22nd Oct 2016 09:58 UTC
Member since:

Fundamentally, we cannot trust a company that makes money from our personal data. Their incentives don't align to protect our personal data.

Reply Score: 13

v RE: You can't trust Google
by TheMole on Sat 22nd Oct 2016 10:29 in reply to "You can't trust Google"
RE[2]: You can't trust Google
by Wondercool on Sat 22nd Oct 2016 11:14 in reply to "RE: You can't trust Google"
Wondercool Member since:

What kind of reasoning is this? Google is an accident waiting to happen!

It's like arguing it's not bad to have a dictator running your country as: "he has done nothing wrong.., You can always leave your country...".

What choice do I have here? There are only 2 phone OSes and about 4 desktop Oses. On each platform, Google has a stake and on the phone OS side both spy equally hard even if they try to sweep it under the carpet.

Reply Parent Score: 11

RE[2]: You can't trust Google
by Alfman on Sat 22nd Oct 2016 16:34 in reply to "RE: You can't trust Google"
Alfman Member since:


You couldn't be more wrong on the 'trust' part. Google has been nothing but transparent about its policies, and has never been caught doing anything that it hadn't properly communicated and/or given tools to opt-out of.

The problem is that their financial incentives do not align with consumer's privacy, that's a fundamental problem for privacy and it is a cause for concern. In some of these cases they clearly broke the law and went way past any decent concept of ethical guidelines.

While this could be true of all corporations, google's shear scale and the breadth of their data collection makes especially troubling. Users can even be monitored unwittingly by invisible bugs they don't know are there.

I care about privacy, and even though I take steps to protect it by using my own hosting, regularly clearing cookies, using ghostery plugins, hostfile modifications, etc. Not everyone knows how to do these things even if they care about privacy.

If google were just a search engine, or just an advertising company, or just an app company, or just a web analytics service, or just a webmail provider, or just a mobile company, then multi-vector tracking would be much less of a concern. However when they have a hand in almost everything, our privacy issues escalate much further than if services had been controlled separately.

On mobile devices it's difficult to block tracking when most phones aren't rooted. On android, I'm forced to use the playstore, but I really don't know what information google collects or where else those credentials get used. Do they get my MAC address, IME, my real contact info stored on the phone? WiFi Access points? If an app shows ads or has tracking, can google associate that with private identifying information the app store scraped from my phone? What's more, statements about privacy that used to be true are changing year by year, and without regulation they're always changing in favor of collecting more of our private information.

So you can definitely TRUST Google. Of course, you're absolutely right about the fact that their monetization strategy is tied to your personal information, as is the case with many others. But that's a well known fact, and not something they are trying to hide from you. You're not being bamboozled into giving away your inner most secrets or anything of the likes.

If you want to give an example of a company that has actually broken our trust in the past, look no further than Microsoft (forced upgrades, sending info to MS servers even if you've turned on all privacy settings), Sony (rootkits), etc...

But not Google.

I'm uncomfortable with, yet fully understanding of Thom's point of view that privacy is simply futile. Yet this point of view that google has no blame and only oother corporations are responsible for eroding trust...well that's just ridiculous. Go ahead and blame microsoft, there's more than enough criticism to go around, but it's absurd to pretend that google hasn't played a large part in eroding privacy.

Reply Parent Score: 8