A user privacy rights group has filed a complaint with the FTC over Google Attribution, a service launched in May that tracks purchases made by users in stores. The group, known as the Electronic Privacy Information Center is concerned with how exactly Google is tracking this information, as the details are not available to the public.
Google’s Service to Help Marketers
Google announced the Google Attribution service in May. This is a tool to help marketers see how effective their online campaigns are. The service supposedly tracks credit card purchases by obtaining this information from a third party. While Google declared that all information is encrypted and all privacy measures have been taken, EPIC is still concerned about Google’s methods. The president of EPIC, Mark Rotenberg, stated that he would like the Federal Trade Commission to take a look at how Google operates, despite the company claims.
Google has been using data to track store visits for several years. However, with Google Attribution, the company registers actual transactions in the store. The company declared that third parties which they partnered with have access to this data directly. Google simply matches the data it already has to the in-person purchases. The final result should show if there is a relationship between the ad and the purchase. Google added that because the collected data is transformed into a string of mathematical formulas, the company does not, in fact, have access to personal identities.
Rotenberg stated that Google did not disclose who the third-parties are. Moreover, users don’t know the steps taken to conceal the identities the service acquires. Moreover, he claims that the opt out process is misleading and that most users are not aware of this possibility.
Previously, EPIC has filed a complaint with the FTC over Snapchat. EPIC looked into Snapchat’s claim that photos taken by its users will be gone forever. FTC concluded that Snapchat’s claim was indeed misleading and the company had to settle the charges.
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