What Google and Supermarkets Have In Common

February 18th, 2012

You may have seen the news about Google bypassing Apple’s Safari browser privacy settings. Here are reports from BBC News, the Wall Street Journal and ZDNet — for starters. There are hundreds of stories and thousands of comments on those stories, many of them expressing righteous outrage. For example, here are excerpts of some comments posted to this Wired article:

Google and Schmidt are starting to show their true face… as thieves who would do ANYTHING in business, just to make a buck! SHAME ON YOU GOOGLE!!!!!!!

Yup. I’m boycotting Google. That seals it.

I’ve just set my default search engine to Bing on my home and work Macs as well as my iPhone and iPad2. It will be a very long time before I am caught Googling again.

Well, you get the idea.

I wonder, though: How many people who are so outraged by what Google is up to here use loyalty cards at the supermarket, gas station, drug store and/or elsewhere.

You know those loyalty cards, the ones that track your every purchase (sorta like Google tracks your web browsing) and often deliver coupons at the register (sorta like Google delivers targeted web ads at the next site you visit). The companies that manage those card programs undoubtedly sell reams of customer data to each other.

I’m thinking that techies probably know about this stuff more than non-techies, and so perhaps a higher percentage of outraged-by-Google Apple fans are also non-users of loyalty cards. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there are a lot of loyalty cards in the pockets of these angry people.

On the bright side: At least your browser lets you delete advertising cookies. Meanwhile, who can tell anymore exactly who knows that you’re buying too much cheese at the Acme and Preparation H at the CVS?

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