Google Quietly Testing Offline Store Visits Tracking

smartphone-map-checkin Last month Google announced a program called "Estimated Total Conversions." That program is intended to report or provide visibility into cross-device and offline conversions by tracking the activities of signed-in Chrome users and extrapolating that data to the broader Google user population. The offline component of conversion tracking wasn't supposed to begin until 2014. However, according to a report in Digiday, Google is currently experimenting with tracking offline store visits, using smartphone location, and trying to connect that back to mobile ad exposures: Google is beta-testing [...]


Indoor Location Companies Announce Consumer Privacy Rules

online privacy Most major US retailers are employing or testing some form of location-based, indoor analytics. Using WiFi and in some cases other technologies, such as closed-circuit cameras or bluetooth beacons, retailers can now tell when and where shoppers went in their stores. There's a ton of valuable information that has never been available before: where consumers spent time in stores and for how long, their paths through the store, whether a display impacted purchases, the relationship between staffing levels and purchase activity and so on. These insights are possible because a critical mass o [...]


US Sen. Markey Calls For FTC Investigation Over Google’s “Shared Endorsements”

google-privacy-200 Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to take a closer look at Google's "Shared Endorsements" ads. On Thursday when the New York Times story discussing the program was published it initially appeared that Google was introducing a new "Sponsored Stories"-like ad unit. I was confused at first (before talking to Google), as were others. However as we later clarified Shared Endorsements is not a new ad unit. The company was merely expanding the range of social and user-generated content types that could be included in search and display ads. I was quite critical o [...]


Google Launching “Sponsored Endorsements” — User Ratings, Comments, Likes Integrated Into Ads

google-privacy-200 Google is going to use the images, likenesses, comments and other user-created data of its users in ads on its display network. The forthcoming Google display ads will be called "Shared Endorsements." They're not yet live, and they won't apply to users under 18. There will be an opt-out. NOTE: See our follow-up story, FAQ: All About Google’s New “Shared Endorsement” Ads According to a report in the New York Times: On Friday, Google announced an update to its terms of service that allows the company to include adult users’ names, photos and comments in ads shown across the Web, [...]


The Questions Google Refuses To Answer About Search Privacy

google-logo-glow-featured Last month, Google made one of the biggest changes in search privacy ever, by routing all searches through its Google Secure Search service. Why did it make the change? Why didn't it close some loopholes that leave some search data vulnerable? Google -- which is demanding more transparency from the US government over privacy issues -- is preferring not to be transparent about its own moves. What's The TL;DR? The too long; didn't read is that more people should read stuff that they deem too long. The world would be a better place. But OK: Google claims it has improved search privacy but [...]


Google’s New Fight Against Mugshots Sites Fails For Victim Profiled In New York Times

Maxwell Birnbaum - Google Search Google has a new system in place designed to prevent "mugshots" sites from ranking well. Such sites make money convincing people to "remove" their mugshots after posting them online. Only one problem. The person featured in a New York Times story yesterday as a victim of this unsavory practice still has his mugshot appearing, despite Google's supposed change. The practice of mugshot shots was profiled in the New York Times yesterday (and in our sister-site Search Engine Land earlier this year). The New York Times story leads with the story of Maxwell Birnbaum, who was upset that his mugsho [...]


Google Confronts Unwelcome “Wiretapping” Class Actions

google-legal-law As reported in the New York Times, Google is confronting two "wiretapping" class actions that have been allowed to move forward in the courts. One involves automated scanning of Gmail for ad insertion and the other surrounds Google Street View collection of email and other personal data. When Gmail first introduced ads there was a temporary furor, which has all but disappeared other than the case at hand. Street View data collection or "WiSpy" as some have called it has been a much larger, ongoing headache for Google. Recently Google lost an appeal involving its motion to dismiss the Street [...]


France To Fine Google On Privacy, Low UK Taxes Draw Ire

google-eu-200px Google's European woes continue. The outcome of the antitrust settlement negotiations is still uncertain and it's not clear that Google will "get off" without more concessions. Now, European privacy complaints against Google have come to a head, with France all but promising to fine the company. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that France's privacy regulator, the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), told media on Friday that Google had blown a deadline to change the way it handles user data. According to the report a quasi-judicial process will now begin tha [...]


FTC Opens New Facebook Investigation Over Privacy Changes

facebook Privacy continues to be Facebook's nemesis. The company's envelope-pushing approach to privacy has repeatedly been the subject of complaints and litigation over the years. And now it's caught between a court-mandated settlement and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Facebook recently settled a "Sponsored Stories" class action lawsuit for $20 million. That suit argued that Facebook had misappropriated users’ likenesses and other content without their consent. On August 29 Facebook updated its privacy policies to reflect the terms of that settlement. The major change is reflected in th [...]


Appeals Court Blocks Google Effort To Exit “SpyView” Case

google-legal-law The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling denying Google's motion to dismiss a class action brought after the 2010 Street View private "payload data" capture revelations. The plaintiff class asserted that Google violated the federal Wiretap Act when it intercepted private email and other communications. The Wiretap Act makes it illegal for anyone to “intentionally intercept . . . any wire, oral, or electronic communication.” It's also illegal to "use or disclose information that is obtained through such an illegal wiretap." Google argued that unencrypted pri [...]


Yahoo Issues First Transparency Report, Shows 42% Of All Data Requests From U.S.

yahoo-us-transparency Yahoo has issued its first transparency report and, not surprisingly, it shows that the U.S. is the source of more governmental requests than any other country. The report covers the first half of 2013, a time when Yahoo says it received almost 43,000 requests from 17 different governments.* The U.S. was the top source with 42 percent of all requests. Yahoo says it received 12,444 total U.S. requests, which affected 40,322 Yahoo accounts. In 37 percent of cases, Yahoo disclosed content in reply to the request -- this could be in the form of words in an email or instant message, photos on [...]


Report: Almost 90 Percent Concerned About Online Privacy & Trying To Avoid Advertisers

online privacy A new survey based report from the Pew Research Center has some interesting and eye-opening findings about online privacy. Among them, the survey finds that 86 percent of US internet users "have taken steps online to remove or mask their digital footprints" using a variety of methods. Part of the survey dealt with online security and identity theft, which I won't go into here. Despite their efforts the majority of respondents (59 percent) now believe it's not possible to be completely anonymous online. And 68 percent said that the current legal framework is not sufficient to protect onli [...]


Facebook May Expand Use Of Facial Recognition To Billion+ Public User Profile Pictures

facebook-logo-sm After Facebook announced updates to its Data Use Policy this week, Reuters is reporting that the social network is considering applying its facial recognition technology to user profile pictures, adding over a billion public profile photos to the site's facial recognition database. According to Reuters, Facebook leverages the facial recognition technology for its "Tag Suggest" feature, automatically identifying users in newly uploaded photos by comparing faces in a picture to previous photos where the user was tagged. Facebook told Reuters that expanding its facial recognition technology to [...]


Facebook Updates Policies On How User Data Is Used In Advertising

facebook-target-aim-featured Following this week's "sponsored stories" legal settlement, Facebook is following court orders by updating the documents that explain how the company collects and uses data -- particularly in advertisements. Close observers of Facebook's privacy and usage documents may want to check out the "redline" PDFs for the Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which clearly show the new language that Facebook is proposing. The biggest clarification in the latter document, and the one specifically referring to the recent legal settlement, comes in a section titled About Adve [...]


Facebook Settles “Sponsored Stories” Litigation For $20 Million

likes-featured Yesterday, a court in San Francisco approved settlement of potential class action litigation against Facebook over its Sponsored Stories program. Sponsored Stores are ads that include identification of users' friends who've "liked" the advertiser. Facebook has agreed to pay $20 million to end the case. The settlement was approved over various objections including the argument that minors' privacy rights are not sufficiently protected under the terms of the settlement. Child advocates had wanted parental approval before minors' content could be used commercially. The essence of plaintiffs [...]


Yahoo Gives Out Inactive Usernames Via “Wishlists” & Launches “WatchList” With A $1.99 Fee

yahoo-featured Yahoo users who completed a Wishlist for their "dream" Yahoo username/email last month should find out today if they received one of their top five choices. According to the announcement, even if a user didn't win one of the five usernames they submitted on their Wishlist, Yahoo's newly launched Watchlist will offer more opportunities to claim a Yahoo ID. Yahoo's Watchlist allows users to monitor up to five usernames for three years. The company says that if any of the usernames on a Watchlist become available, the user will have 14 days to claim it. Any users who completed a Wishlist will [...]


Privacy Groups Ask Court To Reject Google Settlement, Claim It Won’t Fix Privacy Issues

computer-internet-legal-law-featured Last month, Google agreed to pay $8.5 million to a settlement fund over a lawsuit claiming the site had given private information included in user search queries to third parties without gaining consent from users or notifying them that the information was being shared. The court approval for the settlement was scheduled for today, but five US privacy groups have requested that the settlement not be accepted. PCWorld reports that the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Watchdog, Patient Privacy and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse wrote a joint letter a [...]


Microsoft’s Latest Scroogled Target: Google’s “Gspam” Ads That Look Like Email

gspam Microsoft has taken another shot at Google today with the latest push in its ongoing "Scroogled" campaign. This one? Another attack on Gmail. Or, as Microsoft is calling it today, "Gspam." That's the term they're using for those ads that look like emails in Gmail (which, last I recall hearing, was still a limited Google test). From today's update on Scroogled.com: Consumers should be able to trust their email provider to protect them from spam, but Google is doing just the opposite. Rather than protect you from spam, Google is reading your private email conversations and using what they fi [...]


Twitter’s Latest Transparency Report Details Increases In DMCA, Removal & Information Requests

Twitter Logo Twitter's latest transparency report shows that the company is seeing double-digit increases in data-related requests so far this year from governments and other rights holders. Twitter breaks down the requests it gets into three types: information, removal and copyright notices. All three are up significantly so far in 2013 compared to the same time period a year ago. Information Requests: Twitter has received 1,157 of these so far this year, a 36 percent increase compared to the first half of 2012. Removal Requests: These went from just six last year to 60 so far in 2013, a 1,000% i [...]


Pinterest Announces Support For Do-Not-Track

pinterest-logo Buried in a post about greater, coming personalization on Pinterest is a statement that says if consumers don't want the tracking they can opt-out. The company supports Do-Not-Track (DNT): We’re excited to give everyone a more personalized experience, but we also understand if you’re not interested! We support Do Not Track, and you can change your account settings anytime. The New York Times points out that after Twitter (in May 2012), Pinterest is the next major player on a very short list of Internet brands to support DNT. Microsoft (with IE 10), Chrome and Mozilla are all supporters o [...]


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