According to a quote from Paulo Coelho: “Everything in life has its price. » Yes, everything including our private data. If in doubt, it’s worth looking at Google’s guidance, which is bound to be problematic.
A new report published by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) demonstrates the dangers posed by Google. Specifically, the report exposes how Google wields Real Time Biding (RTB) by devastating everything in its path.
First of all, what is Real Time Biding? [Traduit en français : « enchère en temps réel », ndlr]
According to the Google website, it is the buying and selling of a “digital advertising inventory”.
What does the term “inventory” mean? An exhaustive list. To be clear, this list, as the ICCL report indicates, describes in great detail the traces left by our digital footprints.
This “group of more than 117 billion dollars”the authors remind us, “operates behind the scenes of websites and apps”. It tracks everything (absolutely everything) including what you are watching, “it doesn’t matter if it’s private or sensitive”.
In short, this large digital ledger records where we go and when we go. If we say to ourselves that it is not good… Well, indeed, it is really not good! And things are only getting worse. Every day, 365 days a year, Google shares all of this data with nearly 5,000 companies around the world, so these 5,000 companies know us better than we do.
And that’s how we get targeted with ultra-specific, ultra-personal ads.
According to the ICCL researchers, “RTB is the biggest data breach of all time.” In addition to tracking and sharing what we watch online, Google’s RTB shares our whereabouts several times a day. How many times ? “178 trillion times [10 puissance 12] per year in the United States and Europe. »
If you use Google daily in Europe, you can expect your online activity to be revealed “376 times in 24 hours”. Online behavior and location are tracked 71 trillion times a year.
The situation is even more dire in the United States. An American who uses Google every day will see their activity “exposed 747 times a day”. Ohio (why Ohio, we don’t really know) breaks all records, with a number that goes up to 812.
In the United States, the online behavior and location of Internet users are tracked, cataloged and shared more than 100 trillion times a year.
For some reason, Google is particularly interested in Germans. According to the report, “Google sends information about the online behavior of Germans 19.6 million times per minute.”
Whether we live in Berlin, Boston, Munich or Miami, the following point should alert us: “Private data is sent to companies around the world, including in Russia and China, with no way to control what happens to it. »
To fully understand how RTB represents absolute evil, researchers from European Digital Rights (EDRi), a Brussels-based international advocacy group, ask us to “imagine auctions, a stock exchange, traders, large screens, noise, graphs, percentages”. Now imagine that all of this goes to the highest bidder. However, explains the report, it happened once that one of these acquirers turned out to be no more and no less than the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). So the acquired data was used to spy on the phones of millions of Americans. This was done without a warrant. In other words, DHS behaved illegally because the RTB permitted it.
Solve this huge problem
Is Google bad? Since the company changed its slogan “Don’t be evil” by “Do the right thing” in its code of good conduct in 2018, we are entitled to ask the question.
While this point remains open to debate, there is one reality that is beyond doubt: Google is far too powerful and this is what allows it to act with impunity by selling our data to thousands of extremely wealthy bidders. .
So what to do?
On May 19, a bipartisan group of US senators introduced a bill to dismantle Google’s digital advertising industry. As noted by Chris Mills Rodrigo of The Hillif the collective pressure of the senators succeeds, Google will only have disadvantageous options: it “will either have to change its system of ads or the way it distributes them, or create a new platform corresponding to the new requirements”.
According to wall street journal, the measure would specifically target companies that make more than $20 billion in advertising-related transactions each year. This includes companies like Facebook, Microsoft and, of course, Google. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, generates $54 billion in revenue per quarter from ads alone.
There is no doubt that Google will fight hard to maintain its RTB revenue stream. Let’s hope, however, for the good of all of us, that the senators’ attempt to bring Google to heel will succeed. Unwanted geotagging and data sharing must stop now.
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