Google’s advertising contributed $209.5 billion in revenues to the corporation in its fiscal year 2021. Now, a class action lawsuit exposes Google’s opaque data-mining practices.
Go figure, it turns out that major tech firms may not be as dedicated to your privacy as their PR teams would have you think.
The most recent example appears to be Google, which was found last week by MarketWatch to have data-mining tactics that employees claim they sometimes “don’t understand and can’t describe.”
The article cited a class action lawsuit in which it was claimed that Google “violated promises not to collect data of those using the browser without signing into their Google accounts.” Recent unsealing of case documents provides an inside peek at Google’s internal privacy discussions.
One anonymous employee seems to imply in the lawsuit that Google’s privacy standards are ambiguous, saying: “I don’t have the faintest idea what Google has on me. The fact what we can’t explain what we have […] on users is probably our biggest challenge.”
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“Users have a right to know,” one employee said. Another commented: “The reasons we provide are so high level and abstract that they don’t make sense to people.” A third employee said: “Consent is no longer consent if you think of ads as a product.”
Additional staff appeared to reinforce the company’s ethos. According to a former employee who recently left the company: “I am more than willing to believe this is how executives talked to each other.”
“Even people I was organizationally close to, knew well, and respected, were finding ways to justify that stuff to themselves,” they said about the company’s privacy teams. “The individual contributors [on Google’s privacy teams] are always idealistic people. Some of these quotes [from the case] look to me like things that idealistic people would say; others look like things management would say when the idealistic people aren’t around.”
When questioned about the allegation by MarketWatch, Google said: “Privacy controls have long been built into our services and we encourage our teams to constantly discuss or consider ideas to improve them.”
According to the report, Google’s advertising contributed $209.5 billion in revenues to the corporation in its fiscal year 2021, making them a significant source of income.