To quote the great writer Paulo Coelho, “Everything in life has a price.” Yes, everything including our personal data. If in doubt, let me point you to a problematic multinational company, Google.
A new report published by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) demonstrates the dangers of Google. Specifically, it shows how Google wields the sword of real-time bidding (RTB) with devastating effects.
First of all, what is RTB? According to Google’s website, this includes the buying and selling of “digital advertising listings.”
Now, ask yourself, what does the word “inventory” mean? a comprehensive list. To be clear, this list, as the ICCL report warns, lays out in great detail the marks left by our digital footprints.
This “$117+ billion industry,” as the authors note, “works behind the scenes on websites and apps.” It tracks everything—absolutely everything you do—including what you see, “no matter how private or sensitive.”
In addition, this digital laser records where and when you go. If you think it’s bad—and it pretty much is—I have even worse news for you: Things get worse from here.
Every single day, 365 days a year, Google transmits all this data to about 5,000 different companies around the world. This enables recipients, all 5,000 of them, to comprehensively profile you.
Have you ever wondered why you are targeted with very specific, very personal ads?
Well now you know. In the words of ICCL researchers, “RTB is the biggest data breach ever recorded.” In addition to tracking and sharing what you watch online, Google’s RTB shares your real-world location several times a day. how many? “178 trillion times each year in the US and Europe.”
If you’re an American reading this, and you use Google on a daily basis, you can expect your “online activity and location to be exposed 747 times each day.” If you live in Ohio, that number increases to 812. Why Ohio? Do not ask me; I am just a messenger.
Across the United States, Internet users’ online behavior and locations are tracked, cataloged, and shared more than 100 trillion times a year.
In Europe, things are not much better; RTB exposes people’s data 376 times every 24 hours. Online behavior and locations are tracked 71 trillion times.
For some reason, it looks like Google is really for Germans. According to the report, “Google sends 19.6 million broadcasts about the online behavior of German Internet users every minute that they are online.”
Whether you live in Berlin or Boston, Munich or Miami, the following points should scare you: “Private data is sent to firms around the world, including Russia and China, without any control over what is done with the data.”
To fully understand the pure evil of RTBs, researchers from the European Digital Rights (EDRI), an international advocacy group based in Brussels, ask us to “imagine auctions, stock exchanges, traders, big screens, noise, graphs, percentages”. say for. Now, imagine all of this going to the highest bidder. One of those bidders, as the report highlights, was the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The acquired data was used to track the phones of millions of US citizens. This was done without a warrant. In other words, DHS, the alleged defender of truth and justice, acted unlawfully. RTB allowed them to do so.
addressing the elephant in the room
Is Google evil? Given that the company literally removed the “don’t be evil” clause from its code of conduct in 2018, I’ll let you answer that question in your own time.
Whether or not Google is evil is an ongoing debate. However, what is not debatable is that Google is too powerful. This power has allowed the multinational tech giant to operate with vast amounts of impunity, selling its data to thousands of bidders with unimaginably deep pockets.
So one wonders, what, if anything, can be done?
On May 19, a bipartisan group of US senators introduced legislation that seeks to sabotage Google’s digital advertising business. As noted by Chris Mills Rodrigo of The Hill, if the senators’ collective push ends in victory, Google will be left with the likes of Sophie, which has “an ad exchange or a supply- or demand-side platform.” Have to choose between operations.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, the bill will specifically target companies that make more than $20 billion each year from advertising-related transactions. This includes Facebook, Microsoft and of course Google. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, generates $54 billion in revenue per quarter from ads alone.
Undoubtedly, Google will fight hard to maintain its RTB revenue stream. Let’s hope, for the sake of all of us, the senators’ attempt to rein in Google turns out to be a resounding success. Unwanted location-tracking and data-sharing needs to stop—and it needs to stop now.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.