Google Insists Its Behavioral Targeting is Benign

By Kiran Aditham 

In a double secret presentation to lawmakers as part of a Congressional hearing on behavioral advertising, Google defended its practice in a not so well-hidden document obtained by advocacy group Consumer Watchdog. The presentation, which can be read here, primarily focuses on Google’s commitment to transparency yet the company keeps schtum when it comes to its user data tracking, storage and sharing policies.

One of the main issues Consumer Watchdog has with Google’s behavioral ads is the opt-out option, which the group says takes seven clicks to install permanently. Meanwhile, Google tests your attention span with 38 videos on its privacy policies that take nearly 4 hours to watch. I’d rather watch The Godfather thank you. Of course, Google also failed to mention the potential data collection habits of its new Chrome OS but maybe they’ll cross that bridge when they get to it.


In a statement on its site, the CW says:

“Google increasingly spies on what consumers do online, including what web sites they visit; creates dossiers on users’ online behavior without their prior permission; then harvests this private information to sell hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising.”

The group also raises a few interesting questions about Google’s targeted ads in an annotated spoof version of the presentation such as:

1. Why isn’t Google’s behavioral advertising opt-in rather than opt-out?

2. Why not prominently include a link allowing users to permanently opt-out of Google tracking?

3. 2008: Google says it has no plans to use behavioral advertising… [that] it doesn’t work. What changed?

4. Is Google’s behavioral advertising really about delivering more interesting ads or is it about expanding its data collection and targeting activities?

More: “Google Reassures Publishers: AdSense Still Viable