Originally Posted by Gatorguy
What evidence do you have that's what they do? My understanding is that Google does the ad placements, with the data itself allowing for targeted ads never leaving their control. That's why they're valuable to advertiser's. If they simply sold "the list" then the value to the chain would drop fast just like it did with the old mailing lists that ended up used several times and shared with other departments.
Do you have some link showing Google's really selling the data itself instead of placing/delivering the ads? I'm happy to be corrected if I've misunderstood.
I'll butt in here again just quickly.
I'm personally unaware of documented instances of google directly selling their personal info. That doesn't mean they aren't doing it indirectly or in tricky ways, and I'd love to hear about it if they are.
But they ARE BUYING
this data, and they are almost certainly the largest owner of personally-identifiable data in the world. Note I didn't say identified, but identifiable. There is a technical difference, but from a practical standpoint it's the same.
I'm not going to dig out a bunch of references, but here's one from a pretty reputable source (the Wall Street Journal) talking about marrying online profiles with offline names
Read down the page a ways and you'll see InviteMedia (a Google company) mentioned:
In Mrs. Twombly's case, RapLeaf transmitted data about her to at least 23 data and advertising companies after she logged into Pingg, according to the analysis of the computer code.
Twenty-two companies, including Google's Invite Media, confirmed receiving data from RapLeaf. RapLeaf declined to comment on its relationships with the companies.
Google may or may not be actively selling
personal data, but they are definitely part of the ecosystem, and they are buyers of this data, which isn't really any better or worse than selling. If legislation isn't in place they can decide overnight that the benefits of carefully selling access to their treasure trove of data outweighs the benefits of keeping it for their own private use.
If you think this is silly because Page/Brin/et. al are generally "good guys" at heart (and I agree), remember that any or all of them could get hit by a bus next week and management would change. In fact, it's guaranteed
that management will eventually change, but the data stores will continue to grow over time. The data they are gathering will never, ever, EVER