Google Privacy Policies and You

By | Internet Lawyer | No Comments

It appears that Google is in the process of streamlining its privacy policies for its services (YouTube, Gmail, Google Search, Google Analytics etc.) and will use the data it obtains on you as a user of its multiple platforms to deliver content. This includes behavioral targeted advertising.

Some privacy advocates are having a hissy fit because there isn’t an ability to opt-out of how Google will use your data. What they don’t realize is that Google has been collecting this data for years. The new development is that the company will now openly combine the data across platforms in order to more efficiently and effectively deliver content based upon your behavior.

All those benefits of using Google means many users mistakenly believe Google is their BFF.

But Google is a for-profit business. Its purpose is to make money. The company is not your BFF or even an ordinary friend for that matter.

If you’re using Google in your business or personal life, remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone is paying for Google to exist, for its research and development, and for the content it delivers to you.

Even if you’re not paying money to advertise on Google, you’re paying in other ways, including the behavioral data that’s being tracked. If you’re uncomfortable with that, don’t use Google. No one is putting a gun to your head and requiring you to use Gmail, Google Calendar, or the search engine.

In the brick-and-mortar world, let’s say you own an auto dealership. You offer free maintenance checks to anyone with a car, knowing that the freebie inspections will provide you with a market of potential clients who need to buy a new car or even pay to have repairs done to their existing vehicles.

You also get paid by local gas stations and car washes for placement of advertising in your windows for their businesses. Chances are the driver getting a free maintenance checkup will need to gas up the vehicle or get it washed soon.

Now imagine those taking advantage of your free maintenance checks start making demands on your dealership in order to protect their privacy. They insist that you have no right to recommend repairs, suggest they buy a replacement car, or permit advertising by local gas stations and car washes.

You would be perfectly within your rights to deny such an obnoxious driver access to your freebie inspections. If the driver didn’t like your terms, he could get his inspections somewhere else.

The same thing can be said about Google. If you don’t like Google’s privacy policies, find an alternative service provider. Let the market determine whether Google is making the right decision instead of demanding that Google change its business model in order to accommodate those who want to leech without bringing anything to the table.

What if Google changes its privacy policies after collecting your data? There’s where potential legal liability comes into play. If Google collects your data under one policy, then reneges on it, the company may face private lawsuits by users and get hit by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for such practices.

As a final note, remember that Google is not your BFF. In fact, Google (like other companies) is your potential competitor. If you’re making money online, you should assume that any data you provide Google can and will be used by the company to determine whether or not it wants to enter your niche either directly or through venture capital investing in one of your competitors.

Opt Out Cookies: Behavioral Targeted Advertising and Protecting Your Privacy

By | Internet Lawyer | No Comments

behavioral-targeted-advertisingDespite claims, opt-out cookies will not substantively protect you from behavioral targeted advertising because tracking your website viewing habits is simply to profitable for Internet advertisers. And new Internet laws to strengthen opt-out processes won’t be effective for that reason either.

When you opt out of behavioral targeted advertisements, what exactly does that really mean? How many advertising networks does the opt out affect? How long will opt-out cookie last before it expires or is destroyed? And if you opted out on your desktop computer, how is that to stop tracking you the next time you’re online using your laptop?

Although the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) provides a way for you to opt out of behavioral targeted ads by its members, that’s just not going to be enough to protect your private information while surfing the Web.

If the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) follows through with true consumer privacy protection, look for opt out cookies to be replaced with a process that requires clear disclosures and informed consent with voluntary opt-ins before behavioral targeting can occur. This will hurt the effectiveness of targeted advertising and impose costs for “buying” the right to track individual Internet browsing habits.  On the other hand if the FTC does nothing, opt-out cookies will be used by advertising networks to pretend to protect privacy.

Behavioral Targeting: FTC to Crack Down on Internet Ads that Invade Privacy

By | Internet Lawyer | No Comments

internet privacyThere’s a reason for the Google Privacy Policy Change for its Interest Based Advertising. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has made protecting consumer privacy from behavioral targeted advertising a high priority. The FTC is tired of spyware and other measures used to track consumers online in order to deliver advertising based on information provided online and website viewing habits.

Google and other advertisers argue that using methods like the DoubleClick dart cookie to track enhances website viewing experience by providing readers with advertising that matches their interests. And it is unlikely that the FTC would disagree with this position.

The sticking point is transparency and informed consent. By regulation or Congressional legislation, look for the FTC to crackdown on interest based advertising except in instances where the consumer has specifically opted in to receive such advertising.

What’s this mean for Internet marketing? Behavioral marketing will continue to exist but there will be a price to pay in order to get collect the information needed to deliver targeted ads based on reader preferences. Some type of carrot (money, special report, coupons, etc.) will need to be provided as an incentive for consumers to sign up for behavioral targeted ads and the related use of tracking cookies and other devices to collect personal data as they surf the Web.