Tag Archives: Big Brother Watch

Pew Research: Most Internet Users Disapprove Of Targeted Ads And Personal Data Harvesting

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

A report released today by The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that majority of Internet users are against “personalized” targeted advertisements. Majority of people are also against the censorship and “personalization” of search results which eliminates objectivity of search results.

The results in the report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted between January 20th to February 19th. Google announced changes to its privacy policy on January 24th.

The report found that search engines are more popular than ever. Most people who use the Internet use a search engine to find information they’re looking for. 73% of Americans use search engines, which grew from 52% ten years ago. Unsurprisingly, most people said that they use Google for much of their searches.

However, the Pew survey probed respondents on how they feel about search engines and other websites collecting personal data about them for different uses – a very clear majority of them said that they disapprove. Google announced on January 24th that it would start combining personal data about its users from its many products and services. Google plans to eliminate “the faceless web” and get to know their users better. They hope that by eliminating anonymity, they can start selling clearer profiles of us to advertisers. Advertisers want to target personalized advertisements at us – so that we are more likely to purchase products from them.  

Google also started eliminating objectivity from its search results, which means that everybody sees different search results depending on their interests and past searches. If one person searches for Ford cars in Texas and another person in New York searches for Ford cars – they might not get back the same search results. This allows Google to show you what it wants – Google basically controls what you see, hear, and know about. This is deeply concerning to majority of people, especially considering how ubiquitous Google has become recently.

The survey found that 65% of respondents said that it was a “bad” thing if search engines collected information about searches and then used it to influence the outcome of future searches.  Only 29% said they have yet to see anything wrong with it and think it’s a “good” thing.

An overwhelming 73% of respondents said that they are against search engines harvesting personal data about them because it’s an invasion of privacy. Only 23% said they are “okay” with it.

68% of respondents disapprove of targeted advertisements because they don’t like their personal data harvested and analyzed. Only 28% of are “okay” with targeted ads.

Unsurprisingly, the survey also found that vast majority of Internet users are completely unaware about the different ways that personal data can be collected of them, how much data is collected about them, and what they can do to limit the collection of data. Only 38% of Internet users say that they are generally aware of ways to protect themselves – most of them do this by deleting their web history.

Pew’s associate director of research Kristen Purcell in a telephone interview said:

“If we ask this question again a year from now, it will interesting to see if awareness is higher”

It does not shock me one bit that most people don’t know how they are being tracked all over the Internet and the many tools they can use to block much of the tracking. This is exactly why Google and the advertising industry are so vehemently against default settings on web browsers that would block third-party spying and tracking cookies.  Google is fully aware that most Internet users don’t know better and this survey just reaffirms what we already knew to be true.

Other recent reports from privacy advocacy groups – such as the UK based Big Brother Watch- found that most people were unaware of Google’s changes to its privacy policy and full implications of it. Only 12% were actually knew about Google’s new privacy policy. Most people are still in the dark about what Google is really doing. Regardless, this new report by Pew clearly indicates that the vast majority of Internet users are against tracking.

As the public get more educated on what Google is up to and they find out ways to better protect themselves, then we will all be better off for it. Mass education of the public is absolutely critical in order keep Google and other tracking companies at bay. The more knowledgeable the public are the better choices they will make for themselves.

To read the full report by Pew – please click here

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Disappointing: Only 12% Of Google Users Are Aware Of Google’s New Privacy Policy!


…actually it’s not so surprising – it’s actually depressingly to be expected.

Anyway, guess what, according to a new poll released the other day, only 12% of the British public has bothered to read through Google’s new privacy policy.

The survey and research was conducted by Big Brother Watch and YouGov. They found that despite the fact that 92% of those included in the survey use at least one of Google’s many services – almost half….yes HALF of them didn’t even know that Google is changing its privacy policy. The precise number is actually 47% of those surveyed, which is absolutely disappointing.

Google announced earlier this year that it will combine all your personal data from all of Google’s services (Gmail, YouTube, search engine, Picasa, etc.) into one detailed profile of you. This combination of data is an effort by Google to make it easier to figure you out better and destroy anonymity. A Google spokesperson said that the company wants to eliminate “the faceless web“. Google makes over 90% of its revenues from advertising. They plan on making it more efficient to sellyour information to advertisers, which is big business for the company. Google earns about $40 BILLION a year in cold hard cash by monetizing your personal data. Sweeeeeeeet! Ka -CHING!

But it’s not so sweet for the vast majority of us who are the victims of this invasion of privacy. Ever since Google announced that they were going to combine our personal data, there has been an unprecedented amount of criticism hurled at the company. It probably caught Google off-guard because this massive company is used to getting a disproportionate amount of good press, while its dirty secrets are often swept under the carpet. Their unofficial company motto was “Don’t Be Evil” – but, as the late Steve Jobs once said, that’s “bulls**t!”

In my other posts on this site, I wrote about how Google received greater scrutiny from members of the US Congress and Senate, dozens of US Attorneys General, several consumer advocacy groups, several other companies, European regulators, and so many more. All are deeply concerned about Google’s increasing desire to harvest more of our personal data and Google’s lack in fairness.

Google has attempted to swat away privacy complaints by launching an awareness campaign to alert the public of its impending alteration to its privacy policy and terms of service – but evidently it failed. This despite the company trying to give itself credit for going through “exceptional lengths” to notify the public. Even the Chairman of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said last Sunday that “nobody reads online privacy notices”. He’s right, nobody does!

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said:

“The policy was only announced six weeks ago and, as Google knows from its advertising business, six weeks isn’t a long campaign – it’s very short. Neither consumers nor the regulators have had long to get their heads around the changes. It’s bad the way it’s been decided that it’s coming in and Google hasn’t reached everyone.

“The impact of Google’s new policy cannot be understated, but the public are in the dark about what the changes actually mean. If people don’t understand what is happening to their personal information, how can they make an informed choice about using a service? Google is putting advertiser’s interests before user privacy and should not be rushing ahead before the public understand what the changes will mean.”

Google’s new privacy policy will go into effect this Thursday, March 1st, 2012. Many people are still in the dark about what Google plans on doing with their information. The average person needs to take greater care of their privacy and educate themselves about the implications of using Google’s services. You don’t want to unwittingly sell your soul to the devil. Get proactive about your security, actively advocate for comprehensive Internet privacy laws to protect you, and spread the message to family and friends.

Remember, you are not Google’s customer – you are Google’s product!

For more information:

PCPro, “Only one in ten Google users have read privacy changes” – click here

The Telegraph, “Google users ignore major privacy shakeup” – click here

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,