Google is working diligently to invade every facet of your life, as user data becomes the world’s leading currency.
Given the overarching need for anyone and everyone to become a part of the world wide web, organizations such as Google, Facebook, and Snapchat have come to realize that their enormous caches of user data could be more valuable than any add-on services that they attempt to launch.
In the case of Facebook and Snapchat, some of this valuable information is quite obvious. Both applications have been tirelessly developing facial recognition technologies that are simultaneously impressive and unnerving, leading many privacy advocates to express concern over the potential sale of this data to government agencies. Worse yet, should the government require facial data for surveillance, there’s no guarantee that a liberal judge wouldn’t allow these images to be subpoenaed into federal clutches.
Google, however, is aiming a bit lower than Facebook and Snapchat, opting instead to focus on your wallet.
Their latest egregious act includes an application that tracks purchases that you make in-person, at a brick and mortar store, and reconciles those decisions with what online advertising you have recently viewed. This terrifying overreach has irked at least one privacy watchdog group into filing a formal complaint against the liberal internet leviathan.
“Google announced the new service — a way for advertisers to measure the effectiveness of an online ad campaign — in May. It combines Google’s search and app records with credit card purchase data acquired from third-party sources. ‘We invested in building industry-leading privacy protections before launching this solution,’ the company tells NPR in a statement. ‘All data is encrypted and aggregated.’
“The Electronic Privacy Information Center is concerned that Google’s methods, the details of which are not public, may not sufficiently safeguard users’ privacy. The center, also known as EPIC, is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate.
“‘Google claims that they don’t know who the users are, that they are being de-identified,’ says Marc Rotenberg, the president of EPIC. ‘We want the FTC to take a closer look.’
“Google is both a search behemoth and an online advertising powerhouse, and it takes advantage of its vast collection of data to create detailed ad metrics. For several years, the company has been using location data on phones to track store visits — for example, to see how many people clicked on a PetSmart ad and then visited their local PetSmart.
“But the new system goes further, and looks at actual purchases, by relying on in-store credit card transactions. Google says it doesn’t have access to that data directly. However, the company has ‘third-party partnerships” that “capture approximately 70% of credit and debit card transactions in the United States,’ Google said in May.”
Google’s stance on the cutting edge of technology has the added effect of keeping the enormous company ahead of legal precedents as well.
Our world has never seen a company such as Google, (or Facebook for that matter), and as a society were are being charged with creating limits for these massive corporations out of thin air. Much like the industrial magnates at the turn of the 20th century, corporations such as Google will likely evade prosecution for their monopolistic tactics and their Big Brother-esque crimes until such as time that other tech firms gain enough notoriety to challenge them.
Until then, Google’s stranglehold on digital information will likely allow them to wreak havoc on Americans’ purported privacy.