Opinion

Google is tracking consumers ‘in the real world too’

The tech companies that marketers now rely on are becoming increasingly intrusive in terms of their data collection and ever more secretive as to how they use the information harvested from citizens – argues Bob Hoffman

It seems that Alphabet, the Google holding company, dropped the search engine’s ‘Don’t be evil’ mission statement for good reason

The advertising industry’s obsession with tracking us and collecting, and selling, information about us took a nasty turn this week.

It was revealed that Google is not just following us online, they are also tracking us in the real world. They are stalking us through our credit card transactions to see when and where we shop and what we are buying.

This raises three questions:

  • Who gave credit card companies permission to sell our purchasing information to Google?
  • Who gave Google the right to that information?
  • Who is Google sharing or selling this information to?

As usual, there is probably some language buried deep in the incomprehensible legal jive we agree to that allows this intrusion into our privacy.

According to The Washington Post, Google “declined to detail how the new system works or what companies are analysing records of credit and debit cards on Google’s behalf.”

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre, said. ‘What’s really fascinating to me is that as the companies become increasingly intrusive in terms of their data collection, they also become more secretive.'”

There is so much wrong with this, I don’t even know where to start.

Walt Mossberg, who has been one of the most articulate and influential tech writers for over two decades, wrote his last column this week.

In it he said: “We need much, much stronger standards for security and privacy than now exist… it’s time to stop dancing around the privacy and security issues and pass real, binding laws.”

Bob Hoffman has been the CEO of two independent agencies and is the author of the Ad Contrarian blog

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