13
Mar
09

Googles Interest Based Advertising Privacy Concerns

I just received an email from Google about a new Adsense advertising scheme that is coming out. It concerns me a little about the privacy of readers. This new system, when I checked Adsense, is turned ON by default and it set a cookie on the readers computer that tracks sites the readers visits – not just the site they are currently on – and collects information on what they are browsing so they can put adverts on ANY site that has opted in that will target the reader.

For example, you love Dogs and visit dog sites then one day you decide you want to buy a cat, you visit a cat website but the site will display Dog adverts because that is what you have been looking at. Ok, innocent and not so bad but I would want adverts related to the site I am on.

OK, not so innocent example, an adult uses their family computer (like most families they only have one shared computer) to look at bikini girl sites or maybe a fan of bloody horror movies, next, little Johnny goes online to look at his favourite website about cartoons – the ads will be targetted on the most visited sites/information – so bikini or horror ads will be shown up to the little boy.

How to stop it seeing most sites will have this turned on by default, well the person visiting must know they have to visit a specific Google page and turn the tracking off. Bad news for privacy, bad news for Google.

google - privacy gone with interest-based advertising via adsenseGoogle is trying to get out of it by saying that the sites owner must state the fact on their privacy page but come on, who would visit these pages especially seeing you don’t know you are being tracked from site to site. Google has gone too far methinks, imagine if Microsoft or a government tracked your web surfing – that is really what Google is doing. They tried with their Web History but most people don’t have Google accounts, this DART cookie doesn’t need you to have an account it will track you everywhere.

Googles original Adsense works great, the ads are related to the page you are reading and I believe that is the best.

People please opt out of these – both Website owners and Web surfers do it now. Opt out of it here – http://www.google.com/privacy_ads.html .

We’re writing to let you know about the upcoming launch of interest-based advertising, which will require you to review and make any necessary changes to your site’s privacy policies. You’ll also see some new options on your Account Settings page.

Interest-based advertising will allow advertisers to show ads based on a user’s previous interactions with them, such as visits to advertiser website and also to reach users based on their interests (e.g. “sports enthusiast”). To develop interest categories, we will recognise the types of web pages users visit throughout the Google content network [ that is a huge amount of the web remember]. As an example, if they visit a number of sports pages, we will add them to the “sports enthusiast” interest category. To learn more about your associated account settings, please visit the AdSense Help Centre at http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/topic.py?topic=20310.

If I have this all wrong and there is nothing really bad and privacy issues are still fine please comment and explain it to me. Maybe I just haven’t thought it through, or maybe I have thought about it too much.:)


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