Science

Now, Google "big brother" is even watching your offline transactions

25 May 2017 | By Anish Chakraborty
Google is tracing your online and offline steps

While using Google products like Gmail, its search engine, Maps and YouTube has become our daily habits, the online giant in return has been siphoning off our personal data to mint money.

Google Attribution, which is its latest offing to its online marketers, is no different and is causing a mass uproar from critics as a violation of privacy.

Here's all about it.

In context: Google is tracing your online and offline steps

25 May 2017Now, Google "big brother" is even watching your offline transactions

EyesWherever you go, it's there

The online giant said on its blog that it can see if the online ads of marketers are bearing fruit by tracking credit card transactions, even if the payments are made offline, sparking off fresh debates on the extent which Google uses and breaches personal information of users.

Google cited that in US it processes almost 70% of the credit and debit card transactions

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Personal data equals to valuable marketing information

ImpactPersonal data equals to valuable marketing information

The multibillion-dollar advertising giant Google via Attribution aims to answer the pertinent question in the mind of every online advertiser, "Is my marketing working?", by gauging both online and offline activities.

It says this service "makes it possible for every marketer to measure the impact of their marketing across devices and across channels -- all in one place, and at no additional cost."

DataThe problem is a deep-rooted one

Google already collects data from its users through AdWords, Google Analytics, and DoubleClick Search; it is also capable of collecting location information from smartphones to check if the user has bought the product it has researched for or seen in an online advertisement.

Now its admission, that its "third-party partnerships" are capable of snooping around credit/debit transactions, is disturbing, to say the least.

ConcernExtending 'creepy' into the physical world

Renate Samson from Big Brother Watch was quoted saying, "The one thing people regularly state as 'creepy' online is when an advert follows them around the Internet. These plans appear to extend 'creepy' into the physical world."

Although monitoring of credit/debit information is limited to US for now, it will soon roll out to other parts of the world, believe privacy campaigners.

MeasuresHow can you avoid this snooping around?

Google users do have the option to limit their data sharing by unchecking the dialogue box that reads "Also use Google Account activity and information to personalize ads on these websites and apps and store that data in your Google Account" and delete their location history to deter tracking.

Most of the netizens are not aware of these measures, therefore, very few apply them.

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Privacy mattersWe can't take words at their face value

Google waved a white flag, saying, "To accomplish this, we developed a new, custom encryption technology that ensures users' data remains private, secure, and anonymous."

It doesn't undermine the fact that every day we are handing over a disturbing amount of data virtually to entities, which don't exactly care much about our privacy if it comes in between their goal of making more money.