Ryan also accuses Google of using hidden websites that mine and then funnel user’s data to its advertisers lacking any knowledge or permission. From the FT:
“Mr Ryan found that Google had labelled him with an identifying tracker that it fed to third-party companies that logged on to a hidden web page. The page showed no content but had a unique address that linked it to Mr Ryan’s browsing activity. Using the tracker from Google, which is based on the user’s location and time of browsing, companies could match their profiles of Mr Ryan and his web-browsing behaviour with profiles from other companies, to target him with ads. Mr Ryan found six separate pages pushing out his identifier after a single hour of looking at websites on Google’s Chrome browser.”
A Google spokesperson denied the accusations stating:
“A spokesperson for Google said the company had not seen the details of the information sent by Mr Ryan to the regulator and that it was co-operating with investigations in Ireland and the UK into its advertising business. The spokesperson added: “We do not serve personalised ads or send bid requests to bidders without user consent.””
These are the latest allegations in light of Google facing fines by the FTC of up to $136 million resulting from the company’s video platform subsidiary, YouTube, violating child privacy laws.
This overall controversy stems from Google’s browser, Chrome, being used as spyware for the company. The Washington Post published an article back in June describing how Chrome acts as a monitoring device for the company and even allows websites to monitor and track users.
Bottom line, if you use Google Chrome as your primary browser, after these news reports you should seriously consider switching to another privacy or security-oriented browser for your computer or electronic devices. Your identity is your property and you have every right to take measures to protect yourself from being monitored or tracked either online or other areas of your life.