Turned off “tracking” on your smartphone? Won’t stop Google from tracking you!

Going off the grid with Google is harder than you might expect.

Google services on Android devices and iPhones track and store your location data even if you turn location history off in your privacy settings, according to an Associated Press investigation.

❝ You can turn off location history any time, but some Google apps still store your time-stamped location data, the AP reported. Google also reportedly uses this location data to target ads based on users’ specific locations.

Turning off location history just appears to remove your location from the Google Maps Timeline feature, which shows you where you’ve been in Google’s data.

Whole lotta Big Brother at work on this one. Your data is obviously worth more to someone else than privacy may be to yourself.

GOOGLE lets outside developers read your email

❝ Just over a year after promising to no longer scan user emails in Gmail for personalized ads, Google is allowing outside developers to do just that

❝ According to a Wall Street Journal report published Monday, Google continues to allow outside software developers to “scan the inboxes of millions of Gmail users who signed up for email-based services offering shopping price comparisons, automated travel-itinerary planners or other tools.”

Vetted app developers that are part of Google’s Gmail program are allowed to read these emails to create new services or app features. Normally, the bulk of emails are scanned electronically by computer software, but in some cases human employees are doing the reading.

Same as it ever was.

What about apps in Google’s Play Store that track children?

Thousands of apps may be tracking the online activity of children in ways that violate US privacy laws, according to a recent survey of Android apps available on the Google Play store.

Using an “automatic evaluation of the privacy behaviors of Android apps,” a team of university researchers and computer scientists concluded that of 5,855 apps in the Play Store’s Designed for Families program, 28 percent “accessed sensitive data protected by Android permissions” and 73 percent of the applications “transmitted sensitive data over the internet.” Though the survey noted that simply collecting that information did not necessarily violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a federal law limiting data collection on children under 13, “none of these apps attained verifiable parental consent” as required under the law since their automated tool was able to activate them.

Among the most concerning findings was that approximately 256 apps collected geolocation data, 107 shared the device owner’s email address, and 10 shared phone numbers.

1,100 shared persistent identifiers, which can be used for behavioral advertising techniques that are banned for use on children by COPPA. 2,281 transmitted Android Advertising IDs…in a method that could “completely negate” AAID privacy protections. That means those apps appear to be in violation of Google policy.

Do no harm, eh?

When US closes its door to talented immigrants, start a cutting-edge AI research institute in Canada

❝ Canadian researchers have been behind some recent major breakthroughs in artificial intelligence. Now, the country is betting on becoming a big player in one of the hottest fields in technology, with help from the likes of Google and RBC…

❝ Money from big tech is coming north, along with investments by domestic corporations like banking multinational RBC and auto parts giant Magna, and millions of dollars in government funding.

Toronto will soon get the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, geared to fuelling “Canada’s amazing AI momentum”…

The founders also want it to serve as a magnet and retention tool for top talent aggressively head-hunted by US firms…

Google invested C$4.5 million last November in the University of Montreal’s Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms.

Microsoft is funding a Montreal startup, Element AI. The Seattle-based company also announced it would acquire Montreal-based Maluuba and help fund AI research at the University of Montreal and McGill University.

Thomson Reuters and General Motors both recently moved AI labs to Toronto.

Earlier this month, the federal government announced C$125m for a “pan-Canadian AI strategy”…

❝ Those trying to build Canada’s AI scene admit places like Silicon Valley will always be attractive to tech talent. But they hope strategic investments like these will allow Canada to fuel the growth of domestic startups.

Canadian tech also sees the travel uncertainty created by the Trump administration in the US as making Canada more attractive to foreign talent.

Yeah, a global economy is a real shame. For folks who often can’t figure out how to find a better job in a city in the American Midwest 25 miles away from the neighborhood they grew up in. For the rest of us — no big deal.

What’s so difficult about considering moving North for a good job, a bright future? Yes, the cold is a hangup for some. Counter that with diverse demographics, tolerant social policies, a national health service that works for all – and some damned good schools.

AT&T, Verizon join UK firms pulling ads from Google, YouTube over hate-group, terrorist content

❝ The U.K. advertising backlash against Google is spreading to the United States. Mobile carriers AT&T and Verizon, Enterprise car rental and pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline are among the major ad buyers acting to distance their brands from the offensive and extremist content that saturates YouTube.

Following an eruption of brand association concerns in the U.K. that prompted the Guardian newspaper, European mobile carrier O2, British Royal Mail, Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, Transport For London, the BBC, Domino’s Pizza, Hyundai Kia, McDonald’s, L’Oreal, Toyota and Volkswagen to pull ads from Google and/or YouTube specifically, a series of global brands have also jumped to pull their ads in America.


Do your online shopping with Aryan purity

❝ AT&T is pulling all advertisement from Google apart from paid search placement, a move that affects not only YouTube but millions of other websites that participate in Google’s ad network…

A spokesperson for Verizon said it was also pulling ads, noting that “Verizon is one of the largest advertisers in the world, and one of the most respected brands. We…blah, blah, blah.”

❝ Google declined to comment on the pulled ads, but offered a statement “we’ve begun an extensive review of our advertising policies and have made a public commitment to put in place changes that give brands more control over where their ads appear…”…

❝ The original investigation by The Times detailed why brands are concerned, noting that Google’s algorithms placed ads for Mercedes E-Class “next to an ISIL video praising jihad that has been viewed more than 115,000 times.”…

Hey. Google’s coders are at least as talented as the geeks working for the Russian GRU and the US NSA. They can come up with algorithms that search folks out by the color of their pubic hair and how many toes they wish they had. I find it unlikely or even difficult for Google to be put-off by the size of the task needed to change the situation they’ve wandered into.

No doubt profit-optimization got them there. It had better work to motivate solutions, now.

Google braces for questions while big-name firms pull advertising

❝ Google executives are bracing for a two-pronged inquisition from the advertising industry and the government over the company’s plans to stop ads being placed next to extremist material.

A slew of big-name companies, advertising firms and government departments have either pulled their adverts from Google and its YouTube video site or are considering whether to do so, with media giant Sky, telecoms group Vodafone and a trio of banks adding their names to a growing list over the weekend…

❝ The ads help fund payments to the people who post the videos, with every 1,000 clicks worth about £6. Experts estimate this could have been worth £250,000 to extremists.

❝ Leading advertising agencies have been quick to react, with French marketing firm Havas, whose clients include O2 and Royal Mail, pulling its adverts late last week. Publicis, the world’s third-largest advertising firm, said it was reviewing its relationship with Google and YouTube.

The world’s largest advertising firm WPP, via its media-buying division GroupM, has stopped short of cancelling ads but has written to major clients asking them how they wish to proceed…

❝ While Google is yet to reveal what it plans to do, it is understood that advertisers will be told that they may not be making enough use of existing tools and it will offer to provide advice on how companies can better use these.

However, Google is also expected to take a wider look at how ads are placed, including whether it has put enough checks and balances in place to avoid unfortunate juxtapositions.

Advertisers paying for primo placement certainly should be able to determine who shelters in their shadow.

Google (quietly) drops privacy policy that kept your name out of web-tracking database

❝ When Google bought the advertising network DoubleClick in 2007, Google founder Sergey Brin said that privacy would be the company’s “number one priority when we contemplate new kinds of advertising products.”

And, for nearly a decade, Google did in fact keep DoubleClick’s massive database of web-browsing records separate by default from the names and other personally identifiable information Google has collected from Gmail and its other login accounts.

But this summer, Google quietly erased that last privacy line in the sand – literally crossing out the lines in its privacy policy that promised to keep the two pots of data separate…

❝ The practical result of the change is that the DoubleClick ads that follow people around on the web may now be customized to them based on your name and other information Google knows about you. It also means that Google could now, if it wished to, build a complete portrait of a user by name, based on everything they write in email, every website they visit and the searches they conduct.

❝ The move is a sea change for Google and a further blow to the online ad industry’s longstanding contention that web tracking is mostly anonymous. In recent years, Facebook, offline data brokers and others have increasingly sought to combine their troves of web tracking data with people’s real names. But until this summer, Google held the line.

“The fact that DoubleClick data wasn’t being regularly connected to personally identifiable information was a really significant last stand,” said Paul Ohm, faculty director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law.

“It was a border wall between being watched everywhere and maintaining a tiny semblance of privacy,” he said. “That wall has just fallen.”…

RTFA for instructions on how to opt-out of GOOGLE’s omnivorous appetite for tracking folks. I consider their statement hogwash, PR rationales for plausible deniability. At best, a temporary solution until GOOGLE drops another one of their centipede shoes.