Watching "The Persuaders" this week has been perfect timing, considering the latest news from Google.
In a nutshell, Google will now integrate information collected from all of its services so that it can create a comprehensive profile of each of its users.
Click here to find out who Google thinks YOU are. (Note: this works best from your personal computer, rather than a public terminal in an on-campus lab.) I suppose, with teaching, research and personal use, not to mention my teenage daughter's love affair with the Internet, my computer is just too confusing for the "inferred demographics" algorithm to get a bead on. Google tells me this:
Your categories and demographics
No interest or demographic categories are associated with your ads preferences so far. You can add or edit interests and demographics at any time.
Isn't that helpful of them to let me give them more info about myself?
As for the whole cell phone + GPS location tracking that we discussed in the 9:30 class, the reason no one was really clear on the legality of that maneuver is that it's still not really been decided one way or the other (yet). Probable cause, third party doctrine, blah blah blah -- it's up in the air, or at least in the legislative branch and the lower court system, for the time being.
From a Wired story about last week's Supreme Court case on GPS & privacy:
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority that “the present case does not require us to answer” whether police need a warrant to employ GPS monitoring of targets “without an accompanying trespass.” He said the court may have to “grapple” with that issue “in some future case where a classic trespassory search is not involved.”
Note that the SCOTUS is only dealing with the GPS question from a law-enforcement standpoint; they don't address the question of private firms using this info for marketing research purposes at all.