Google accused of cashing in to sell out user data

Ross Greenwood speaks to The Centre for Internet Safety’s, Nigel Phair, about why Google has been accused of harvesting users data in order to create more targeted advertising.

Introduction: Google accused of cashing in to sell out user data

Ross Greenwood: Want to go to another story which I think is kind of interesting at least. That is, when you pay your telecommunications company, you would hope, at least, that maybe that they would keep your information secure. It would appear that around 10 million consumers are paying their telecommunication if you like service, to send personal data about themselves, about everything that you do during your life, it’s going to Google.

Effectively, Google is knowing what Australians do, what their habits are, and it’s everybody who’s using Android mobile devices.

They’ve been harvesting large amounts of data and selling it or using it to sell targeted advertising. Nigel Phair is at the Center for Internet Safety at the University of Canberra. Nigel, do I care about this?

Interview with: Nigel Phair, Centre of Internet Safety, University of Canberra

Nigel Phair: Of course, Ross. You should always care about anything online and anything mobile.

Ross Greenwood: From that point of view if they are tracking my every movement, why am I particularly concerned unless I think I might be doing the wrong thing unless that information falls into the wrong hands?

Nigel Phair: Well, I don’t know if it’s anything to do with the wrong thing. I’m quite and confidently that you don’t, Ross. It’s got all to do about hitting you with ultra-targeted advertising. That’s what this is all about. The Googles and Facebooks all over the world, as your last caller would speak with, would always know it’s all about earnings per share per quarter. These US companies need to keep making it. To do that, they keep monetizing you as a user and all the listeners out there and it’s all through targeted advertising.

Ross Greenwood: We should actually make the observation here to people. Google’s advertising revenue is around 86% of its core business. That advertising revenue was up by 24% year-on-year. Around $34 billion Australian in the three months end of March 31st. The more that they can target your behavior and your habits, the more they can target the ads. The more valuable those ads are.

Nigel Phair: The more they have to keep monetizing it to keep the rev-share going.

Ross Greenwood: From that point of view, how do they actually physically track you?

Nigel Phair: There’s a range of different ways. Of course, we voluntarily give the information up. This is the real crux of this issue. If you’re logged onto a Google service and you read the Google Privacy Policy. It says, “Everything that you do online is going to be hoovered up by us, Google.” When you use their maps, their search, everything that they’ve got available, They’re going to collect that and micro-tailor advertising for you. On top of that, of course, the Android operating system, as you mentioned, is owned and operated by Google.

They’ve got another in there through the operating system. That’s the nexus to the telco operators. Of course, we geo-locate which gives them even more tailored information. That’s how they’re doing it.

Ross Greenwood: Wow. Then, the other thing I guess is data harvesting whereby from that they can make large amounts of money because they actually know what people’s behavior is, what people are doing. That simply makes their advertising and everything else they do even more valuable.

Nigel Phair: Absolutely. They know the apps that you download. They know the data and the things that you do on the apps. They know where you search. They know the restaurants you like going to. All the places that you check in. Everything that you like doing is all there.

Ross Greenwood: It’s unbelievable. Nigel Phair is at the Center for Internet Safety at the University of Canberra. Should also say another thing. That is that Family Planning New South Wales apologized to its clients. After around 8,000 clients who had contacted Family Planning New South Wales over the past two and a half years seeking appointments or leaving feedback. Effectively, it might be a situation where their information has been compromised by the online databases. Now, this is under the new laws that have come out from the government.

Family Planning New South Wales has notified the Australian Federal Police that’s working to a set of standards by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner after this attack. They’re still saying, “It’s business as usual at the clinics.” As I say, 8,000 people. These are the new laws that have come in for every business in Australia. Nigel, as always, great to have you on the program.

Nigel Phair: Thanks, Ross.



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Image source: 2GB

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