Blog/Google taking steps to tackle privacy issues with advertising
10th February 2021
Privacy online has, for a long time, been a massive issue among internet users. What data and how much of it is being harvested every time we browse the web is something that concerns most of us.
Tech giants Faceboook, Twitter and Google offer free services, but are among the biggest companies in the world largely thanks to smart advertising that allows companies to target select groups of users that are likely to be interested in their products or services.
But to allow them to to that, they need to be able to determine who you are, what you like, what you do and where you are, and pin it to your account so it knows who you are and what you’re likely to do in future.
It then uses all that data to predict how you’re likely to behave, what you will respond to and in some cases try and influence that.
This – to many people – is a bit icky and to others – who feel more strongly – think it’s thoroughly sinister. Not many people are totally happy with it, but they tolerate it, because these tech giants have such a grip on life in 2021, and we depend on the web for so much – banking, communications, socialising – that to not use their products and services would be very nearly impossible.
Tech megalith Apple – largely as a result of them actually having a product to sell – have always taken a ‘privacy first’ approach in but that’s not something Google can really offer, having been built around it’s ability to gather data.
However, with pressure growing to behave more ethically, for greater online regulation (in a number of areas), and with the markets and competitions authority closely monitoring Google’s growing share of the advertising market, Google has committed to tackle the privacy issues that have long since been recognised with its methods.
While it’s highly unlikely it will go as far as Apple in respecting people’s privacy, it’s thought that Google will start to recognise groups of similar users rather than look at each user as an individual, allowing for increased – although not absolute – anonymity.
While Google claim that their decision is altruistic and that they seek an open and accessible internet, the threat of increasingly sophisticated blockers in a climate where there is an increasing demand (as a result of what Google and it’s like have been doing) threatens to derail their whole business model.
Time will tell if these changes and those like it will go far enough, or whether new regulation will have to be introduced to protect users’ identitites.
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