Posted in War on Privacy

The Monster strikes again: Google to give marketers the ability to target people via email address

The latest salvo in Google’s never-ending war on privacy has just been fired. Via Naked Security:

Let’s say you’ve joined a travel company’s rewards program. In doing so, you handed over your email address.

As you plan your next trip, maybe you’ll do a Google search on “non-stop flights to new york,” much to the delight of the advertising-engorged company.

If you’re logged in to any Google account, you may very well see ads from that same travel company, whether you’re watching your favorite videos on YouTube, running a Google search or catching up on your Gmail inbox.

Google’s Senior Vice President of Ads and Commerce, Sridhar Ramaswamy, announced a new tool that will enable that advert penetration – Customer Match – in a post on Sunday.

Customer Match will enable advertisers to get to us via our email addresses, which can be matched to signed-in users of its search engine, Gmail or YouTube in what the company says is a “secure and privacy-safe way.”

There’s no such thing as secure, privacy-safe targeted marketing, just as there’s no such thing as clean coal. They’re oxymorons. Targeted marketing is, by its very nature, intrusive. It has to be.

Facebook and Twitter already sell targeted ads. Google has long wanted to be in that game, but has held off. Until now, that is. Now, they’re going to allow advertisers to upload lists of email addresses and sell those advertisers targeted access to users of their YouTube and Gmail properties, as The Wall Street Journal reported months ago.

In its early years, Google was described as a search engine, and Google is still synomous with search today. But while Google may have been search-focused as a startup, it is today a mature advertising company with some curious sibling businesses. Undercutting privacy is part of Google’s business model. Google’s so-called free offerings aren’t really free at all. The price people to pay to use Gmail, YouTube, and other Google products is the surrender of their privacy.