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You’d be goggle-eyed if you knew how much of your data Google ...

World

You’d be goggle-eyed if you knew how much of your data Google really shares

The info is mainly used to boost the search engine’s ad revenue, but it is increasingly being exploited for surveillance

Parmy Olson

Along with the Pixel phones, watches and earbuds at Google’s annual showcase of software and devices last week came a pair of nifty-looking translation glasses. Put them on and real-time “subtitles” appear on the lenses as you watch a person speaking in a different language. Very cool. But the glasses aren’t commercially available. It’s also unlikely they will make anywhere near as much money as advertising does for Google’s parent, Alphabet. Of the company’s $68bn in total revenue from the quarter ending March 31 2022, about $54bn came from advertising.

The scope of our own, oblivious involvement in that business is also incomparable with any other time in history.

Each time you open an app on your phone or browse the web, an auction for your eyeballs is taking place behind the scenes thanks to a thriving market for personal data. The size of that market has always been hard to pin down, but a new report from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, which has aggressively campaigned for years in the US and Europe to put limits on the trade of digital data, has now put a figure to it. The report says ad platforms transmit the location data and browsing habits of Americans and Europeans about 178-trillion times each year. According to the report, Google transmits the same kind of data more than 70-billion times daily, across both regions...

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