business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post reports that the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy rights advocacy group, "is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate a new Google advertising program that ties consumers’ online behavior to their purchases in brick-and-mortar stores."

The program, Google has said, allows it to track people's behavior from their clicks on online ads to purchases made in bricks-and-mortar stores.

The complaint, the Post writes, charges that Google is mining credit and debit card information "without revealing how they got the information or giving consumers meaningful ways to opt out. Moreover, the group claims that the search giant is relying on a secretive technical method to protect the data -- a method that should be audited by outsiders and is likely vulnerable to hacks or other data breaches."

Google, the story says, "called its advertising approach 'common' and said it had 'invested in building a new, custom encryption technology that ensures users' data remains private, secure and anonymous'." And now it says that it does not have access to personal information, nor does it share what it does know with its retail partners.
KC's View:
To me, the bottom line on these things has to be the ability for the consumer to opt out ... or, better yet, opt in. I have no problem with being tracked if it serves my best interests, but I want to be the one who defines them. Alas, I suspect that may not be what is happening here.