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Wed 11th Mar 15:19 2009: Google Adverts getting carried away

Google do a pretty good job of crawling and indexing the entire web purely in the name of selling contextual adverts to put onto web pages and into search results.

Now they are going a step further; using the abundance of pages which contain Google adverts to track users as they browse different websites, and then categorising those users according to their habits.

They have announced this on the blog: Driving monetization with ads that reach the right audience:

This week we're announcing plans to provide interest-based advertising across AdSense publisher sites to help achieve that goal. In the past, advertisers have taken advantage of contextual and placement-targeted advertising on AdSense publisher sites. With this enhancement they'll also be able to reach users based on their previous interactions with them, such as visits to the advertiser website, as well as reach users on the basis of their interests (such as "sports enthusiasts" or "travel enthusiasts").

BT have been proposing something similar, though slightly more underhand, with their Phorm technology, which has got them into hot water a number of times already.

In 2008, Google told US Congress:
"In our quickly evolving business environment, ensuring that we can keep our users' trust is an essential constant for building the best possible products. With every Google product, we work hard to earn and keep that trust with a longstanding commitment to protect the privacy of our users' personal information. The bedrock of our privacy practices are three fundamentals: providing transparency, choice, and security."

It appears that Google are stepping away from this commitment to trust and privacy.

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