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Google's Shopper Tracking Attracts Complaint to FTC

8:31 pm on Jul 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Remember that announcement that Google believes it has cracked the problem of tracking and connecting bricks and mortar purchases to online advertising? [webmasterworld.com]

It seems it has attracted a complaint to the FTC over privacy concerns.

The legal complaint from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, to be filed with the FTC on Monday, alleges that Google is newly gaining access to a trove of highly sensitive information -- the credit and debit card purchase records of the majority of U.S. consumers -- without revealing how they got the information or giving consumers meaningful ways to opt out. Moreover, the group claims that the search giant is relying on a secretive technical method to protect the data -- a method that should be audited by outsiders and is likely vulnerable to hacks or other data breaches. Google's Shopper Tracking Attracts Complaint to FTC [washingtonpost.com]
10:47 pm on Aug 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I wonder how large the in-house legal department is at the Googleplex these days?
5:22 pm on Aug 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@keyplyr, good question. Fact that Google's CEO had over 200 visits to <snip> Whitehouse is staggering.

Once you get big enough legal department, it's all downhill.

From the link:

Google's program, Store Sales Measurement, in May. Executives have hailed it as a “revolutionary” breakthrough in advertisers’ abilities to track consumer.

To do this, Google said it had obtained access to the credit and debit card records of 70 percent of U.S. consumers. It had then developed a mathematical formula that would anonymize and encrypt the transaction data, and then automatically match the transactions to the millions of U.S. users of Google and Google-owned services

This is way, WAY out of line for a Search Engine.

Similarly to this, there are civil penalties of $100 per HIPAA violation for healthcare data. Financial data should be in the same ballpark. So that's $100*(100 million *70%) = $7 Billion dollar violation right there.

Clearly , we are in a dire need of for-the-people search engine. Not for-the-rich and for-big-business.

[edited by: goodroi at 8:42 pm (utc) on Aug 3, 2017]
[edit reason] Let's avoid political comments [/edit]

11:50 am on Aug 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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This is not just crossing the line, it is them being given taking inch by inch and slowly growing it into miles over time. They have gone above and beyond to invade our privacy and get all kinds of data on us. It is time for them to get another major multi-billion dollar fine.
9:10 pm on Aug 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@masterjoe, I think there's a good opportunity here for us to gain our privacy back.

With multi-billion dollar fine, what MUST be done is not activity as usual, "all the money goes to lawyers and feds" who party on. Part of the settlement MUST be a set up of a billion-dollar Foundation for Free Search.

<< here's our money for an alternative non-profit search engine.

This will help the world, instead of them spending billions used on our content and our financial information on gray projects such as DOD and military driverless vehicles. They clearly lost all touch with reality now and are nothing but a military .gov contractor that feels they can do whatever they want for profit with no consequences.
2:14 pm on Aug 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I agree. A foundation for free search would be better for everyone, since Google has zero regard for anyone but themselves. They build things that slowly drive people away and piss them off, just like the forced integration of G+ and YT profiles. And not to mention, Plus is still a ridiculously confusing and annoying interface, and simply shows how out of touch with the normal people they really are.

Perhaps if they reached out to webmasters, and made it easy for G to somehow integrate and improve websites, they might have actually taken a nice cut of the social media pie. E.G. a platform where all websites were interconnected to a social network, etc, something that would be COOL and innovative. They probably wouldn't be able to help themselves and would likely put in all kinds of spyware tracking into it just like chrome though. So that ideas out, but its a start.

I hope this blows up in their nerdy faces just it did with the EU.

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