Google will begin showing ads on Wednesday to people based on their previous online activities in a form of advertising known as behavioral targeting, which has been embraced by most of its competitors but has drawn criticism from privacy advocates and some members of Congress.
Perhaps to forestall objections to its approach, Google said it planned to offer new ways for users to protect their privacy. Most notably, Google will be the first major company to give users the ability to see and edit the information that it has compiled about their interests for the purposes of behavioral targeting. Like rivals such as Yahoo, it also will give users the choice to opt out from what it calls “interest-based advertising.”
Privacy advocates praised Google’s decision to give users access to their profiles.
Given Google’s position as the No. 1 seller of online ads, its approach is likely to put pressure on other companies to follow suit. Online advertising industry groups said it might help quell calls for government regulation.
But the privacy advocates also said Google needed to do more to notify people that they were being tracked.
“We think more needs to be done on how to educate people and tell them how to opt out,” said Ari Schwartz, chief operating officer of the Center for Democracy and Technology. Full Story