back to article Google wants to track your phone and credit card through meatspace

Google wants stores to gather purchase data on its behalf, to bolster its case that advertising on the platform works. Lest you fret about the gross invasion of privacy involved, rest assured that the Chocolate Factory promises the info will be anonymised. (Stop laughing, anonymity researchers. We're sure Google means what it …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone know how long Google have had access to this?

    "If not, fear not: Google's signed partners in the financial sector that mean it can see 70 percent of credit card transactions in the US (thankfully, the program's specific to the US at the moment – perhaps because other countries have privacy regimes harder to navigate). As The Consumerist puts it: “your history of ad viewing is still going to be out there, tied to your credit card spending, without a whole lot you can actually do about it”. "

    I love the dystopian future that's already here. It makes me shop less. In turn I can work less! Less stress + owning less stuff = more happiness...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone know how long Google have had access to this?

      Same here AC.

      Being more aware of consumerism as a system has made me passively (and sometimes actively) resistant against it.

      Government can bleat about "consumer confidence" all they want, but I definitely want to make do with less junk in my life, and less tracking while I opt-out.

    2. Doctor_Wibble
      Boffin

      Re: Anyone know how long Google have had access to this?

      A good question - the first warning sign for me was when a secure payment page was slow to load because it was 'waiting for doubleclick', which was very shortly before I started looking at actual blocking of advertiser domains rather than just e.g. not having flash or activex enabled.

      That must have been at least a decade ago, well before google bought them and the magic google whitewash made it all completely not-evil and totally different from those horrible advert people.

      Card purchase data, notification emails, customer loyalty cards, postal addresses... this new(ish) thing is just an explicit link rather than the implicit links they had to infer previously.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      It's a bit of an irony, actually

      Here we were, idly postulating about how evil our governments could become, when it was actually private companies that were working on perfecting the most invasive day-to-day violation of our privacy.

      Sure, the NSA has the ability to look into me, but I will never be greeted at a shop by someone I don't know who will ask me specific questions on how my family is going. Google, on the other hand, will one day have the means to prompt the sales clerk to ask if I like whatever it was that I bought yesterday, or if I'm still using whatever it is I bought last month.

      That is a whole new level of surveillance and I am certain that I will like that even less.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

        "Google, on the other hand, will one day have the means to prompt the sales clerk to ask if I like whatever it was that I bought yesterday, or if I'm still using whatever it is I bought last month."

        At which point the sale would be lost.

        1. PNGuinn
          Go

          At which point the sale would be lost

          And maybe the original item given a few seconds in a microwave - to destroy any microchips, natch.

          And then tested and found not to work.

          And so brought back for a refund.

          No I don't have an email address, or phone for you.

          Do you have ... Sorry, that's personal I can't answer that ...

          Yup, I'll give you may name and address. Mind you, write ALL of it down, lad ... there's 41 letters in my hyphenated firstname alone ....

          Can't read my signature? It's not meant to be legible, lad, grow up.

          Nature of fault - pile of steaming dodo poo ....

          Please put your card ...

          Nope. Paid cash, want grubbies back.

          etc.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

          I was approached by a very attractive lady at the local shopping centre who was with trying to flog one of the credit builder credit cards. I will freely confess that I was dressed a little rough because I had been on a site visit trying to locate cable faults. So after the initial hello and introduction to the brand I explained that I have a very good credit score so she might want to talk to someone else. Nope it's me she wants to talk to and as I'd given her my first name when we first met she asked for my email. I said she was very attractive but things were moving a bit fast for me, what about a drink first maybe when she finished.

          Laughing she replied she wasn't sure her boyfriend would approve of that. What's his Credit score then, is he a safe emotional investment for you? Still laughing she asks what my score is and I get an approving look when I say around 980 out of 1000. I said I was happy to give her an email address but only over a drink. Sadly she declined the offer and we both left the encounter empty handed.

      2. fishman

        Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

        "Here we were, idly postulating about how evil our governments could become, when it was actually private companies that were working on perfecting the most invasive day-to-day violation of our privacy."

        Yes, but Google wants to throw ads at you - your government wants to throw people in jail.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

          > Yes, but Google wants to throw ads at you - your government wants to throw people in jail.

          Don't be surprised if that distinction becomes blurry in the next few years.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

          "Google wants to throw ads at you - your government wants to throw people in jail."

          The way things are going, our government may start throwing bombs at us soon...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

            The way things are going, our government may start throwing bombs at us soon...

            Won't need to. It will just keep inviting people in to do the dirty work.

      3. ecofeco Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

        Some of us have been trying to warn people for years and all we got were downvotes.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: It's a bit of an irony, actually

          Some of us have been trying to warn people for years and all we got were downvotes.

          Heh, think what some of us Christians feel - for decades warning that mass tracking of your movement was coming, that would be linked to commercial activity, and we got rubbished for it. And yet here we are, what you buy and where you go all handily stored in one easy-to-target1 location. Now it's coming to pass, and worse than some of us expected.

          1 "Target" in this case being legal action by the government (if you watch Continuum you'll see we may reach a point where the corporations are the government), hackers, those who know how to file the right FOI requests...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone know how long Google have had access to this?

      I'm noticing a reappearance of zombie cookies / HSTS exploits also on iOS10.3.x,

      I've collected a bunch of unique identifier trackers from Alphabet wannabe's that are repopulated as soon as they've been erased/cleaned/deleted. I wonder if this permanent ID is connected to the Goooogle credit-card snarfing?

      Apple seem not to be interested, according to the thousand or so who've clicked the 'this-affects-me-too" button on Apple forum.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: Anyone know how long Google have had access to this?

        Apple seem not to be interested, according to the thousand or so who've clicked the 'this-affects-me-too" button on Apple forum.

        Got a link to the forum? I know a couple of people who may wish to be more informed of the issue themselves.

  2. Esme

    We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

    Here in the UK some companies are already asking for ones email address at the till. This first happened to me some months ago in Lakeland, but has now happened about a dozen times in various other shops. My response each time is the same - to refuse to give my email address. I'm also increasingly tending to withdraw cash from a cashpoint prior to going shopping, and purchasing with cash, because I strongly object to all this unwanted invasion of privacy.

    I'm getting heartily sick of this corrosive invasion of privacy that's taking a stranglehold on society - even Aunty Beeb is at it, saying they're going to make a sign-in a requirement for use of iPlayer, purportedly to give one a personalised experience which personally, I do not want (I've contacted them to ask what the real reason they intend to insist on a sign-up is, as it's onl'y a bonus to users if it's an optional requirement).

    In my opinion, governments worldwide need to get a grip on this tendency to corporate snooping, and make it absolutely clear to corporations, via legislation, if necessary, that corporations exist to serve society, NOT the other way around. As for Google they can drop dead and die so far as I'm concerned, the unethical shits.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      Using cash? Facial recognition to the rescue. [advert]Take a look at these special offers on facepaint and masks[/advert].

      My e-mail address really is 'root@localhost'. I can prove it: look over my shoulder while I send myself an email.

      If they get this working for me, they will get a list of things I bought, but I did not see the advert because I have javascript turned off. If they invent ads that work without javascript, they will know exactly which products to advertise so they can prove their marketing is effective.

      Got to go - I need to buy a pair of lightspeed briefs.

      1. JLV Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        >purchasing with cash, because I strongly object to all this unwanted invasion of privacy

        Be warned, citizen: only those with something to hide want to remain anonymous. You are now on the double secret probation watchlist!

        1. Hairy Scary
          Big Brother

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          There's one retailer for garden machinery in my area that needs name, address, DOB and phone number for cash sales. When I asked why they told me that since their software was upgraded the till needs that info before processing any sale, be it cash or card! Do they really need all that info just for a simple carb service kit for a lawnmower? I could see the point if I was buying a chainsaw.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

            "There's one retailer for garden machinery in my area that needs name, address, DOB and phone number for cash sales."

            If this is in the UK it would appear to contravene the DPA.

          2. Wade Burchette Silver badge

            Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

            "There's one retailer for garden machinery in my area that needs name, address, DOB and phone number for cash sales."

            If any business did that for any transaction, I would politely make it clear to the employee that I will not give that information and would leave without buying anything. I might even go so far as to find the manager and tell him they lost a sale because of asking too many questions. I would not put anything back, make the employees do it. "Why are we putting this back on the shelf?" "Because a customer refused to provide their personal information."

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

            There's one retailer for garden machinery in my area that needs name, address, DOB and phone number for cash sales

            The best answer to that is to use an odd name and DOB and the address of a holiday home in a different country. A French address really mucks the computer systems used in many UK shops.

            1. BA

              Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

              @Ivan 4

              Great idea !

              I'm going to start using the address of my holiday home in Thailand. Good luck to them trying to find the Thai characters on their keyboard.

              :-)

            2. PNGuinn
              Pint

              Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

              Or when $store asks:

              Address: address of $store including postcode.

              Email: Complaints email of $store.

              etc.

              Or: tailored for the uk:

              Long foreign sounding name with LOTS of hyphens and a couple of apostrophies. Feign REAL ANGER if they get them wrong.

              Address: 3 P'siecat Mews, Barking. T4224T.

              Claim the postcode database is wrong if the system won't take it - new estate.

              (For Merkins: there are at least 2 places called Barking in Blighty. )

    2. Captain DaFt

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      "Here in the UK some companies are already asking for ones email address at the till."

      Me: "jtripper@whitechapel.com"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        some businesses use the excuse 'Do you want our newsletter?' as a way to harvest emails.

        My response is always a firm but polite 'No'.

        I fully expect that soon, I will start hearing 'It is company policy' as an excuse.

        Then we can see a big increase in m.mouse@disney.com and similar fake ones being used.

        I already make more and more purchases using cash just to reduce my tracking profile to a minumum. This especially applies to businesses I have never used before or are part of national chains.

        Adverts are evil. Pure and simple. Anything advertised to me goes on my 'do not buy' list.

        Yes, I am the exception but it makes for a less invaded life. (Adverts invade my personal space)

        yours,

        Grumpy Old Man (paid up with Cash, used notes only)

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          "Yes, I am the exception"

          Don't be too sure. You're certainly not alone.

        2. Captain Hogwash
          Meh

          Re: 'It is company policy'

          Respond with "Do you want the sale?" Company policy is binding on employees of the company, not customers.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          The current ad showing on El Reg.

          What is the connection between IT people and Corsodyl mouthwash? Is it bleeding edge technology?

          1. Hollerithevo

            Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

            @AC Corsodyl -- yes, I hate these and think I will now switch from Corsodyl to another brand for icking me out.

          2. Kiwi Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

            What is the connection between IT people and Corsodyl mouthwash? Is it bleeding edge technology?

            Maybe they think a large proportion of the readership is a bunch of geeks who live in mom's basement and have a poor understanding of the words "personal hygiene"?

        4. FuzzyWuzzys
          Boffin

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          "Yes, I am the exception but it makes for a less invaded life."

          And you're a "runner" citizen voter. You are one the undesirables they're making more effort to find as you attempt evade the system citizen voter. You will comply citizen! YOU WILL COMPLY OR DIE CITIZEN!

        5. DropBear
          Trollface

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          "Grumpy Old Man (paid up with Cash, used notes only)"

          Following that instinctively with "...in non-sequential bills" in my mind does not make me a bad person! I swear...!

        6. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          I have several email addresses.

          I use one for purchases and a separate one for personal emails.

          Looks like I will need a third one.

        7. tokyo-octopus

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          Then we can see a big increase in m.mouse@disney.com and similar fake ones being used.

          I have a reasonably uncommon Anglo-saxon surname and managed to bag reasonablyuncommonsurname@famousemailprovider.com many years ago, and have noticed an uptick in unsolicited emails from UK retailers ("thank you for your recent purchase") in the last few months (and I don't live in the UK or do business with them).

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        casework@ico.org.uk

        1. Someone Else Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          nimrod@blowme.com

    3. LDS Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      If the cashier is pretty: "OK, but give me your telephone number first...." <G>

      If she doesn't call police, maybe will stop asking my email...

      Anyway, I guess I will remove the battery from my phone while shopping (yes, I still look for phones with a removable battery.... the only way you can be sure to kill them, if they don't have another one hidden).

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        Anyway, I guess I will remove the battery from my phone while shopping (yes, I still look for phones with a removable battery.... the only way you can be sure to kill them, if they don't have another one hidden).

        How easy would it be to make a "Faraday Pocket" or "Faraday Phone Case" that blocks such things? (I know what a Faraday cage is and basically how it works, but don't know if things like distance from item to cage is a part of the calculations; to me it's obvious the phone's antenna cannot actually touch the cage, but is very close proximity a problem?)

        Could be something worth designing and giving the design away (would you trust one sold by the very shops who want to track you and whose tracking you want to block?)

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      If "no thanks, I get enough spam as it is" is too difficult to say, how about something like "roger.irrelevant@mailinator.net"?

      That and making sure GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth are off should be enough I would have thought.

    5. ADC
      Big Brother

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      > even Aunty Beeb is at it, saying they're going to make a sign-in a requirement for use of iPlayer, purportedly to give one a personalised experience which personally, I do not want (I've contacted them to ask what the real reason they intend to insist on a sign-up is, as it's onl'y a bonus to users if it's an optional requirement).

      This is preparation for allowing iPlayer access only if you have a TV licence.

      And of course to track your viewing/downloading habits...

      1. IsJustabloke
        Meh

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        "This is preparation for allowing iPlayer access only if you have a TV licence"

        Do you have a problem with that?

        Whenever I'm asked for an email address that I don't want to give I use [not.today@nothanks.com] weirdly, no one has said anything about it as they write it down but then I doubt the poor till flunky gives a toss one way or the other.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          trouble with providing false e-mail or other data to the bbc is that, I'm pretty sure that buried deep in their terms and conditions, a clause (or ten) about their right to withdraw their service for those who provide false details. Trivially simple to crossreference their database with the post code you are "asked" to provide to register for iplayer experience. All to better serve your individual viewing habits and our customers' identity is of utmost importance to us, etc, etc.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

            trouble with providing false e-mail or other data to the bbc is that

            Visit the likes of 10minutemail.com - that way when you gave the address it was a valid working address that you proved you could answer by clicking on the "follow this link to verify your account".

            Failing that, pop off to any freemail provider, create an account (if you need a "current email address" then see above), and give them that address. Never check it again.

            Or check it occasionally, and click the "mark as spam" box for any email from bbc.co.uk. With enough people doing that, it won't take long for spamhaus and other such <insert phrasing of your choice here> organisations to take notice, and for BBC execs to start wondering why emails from them are getting rejected.

            Why do I dislike spamhaus? Because of the crap they pull with new businesses and the hoops they make you jump through just to get email working with your domain, and the lost clients when you can't respond to a customer enquiry. Which has come through hotmail or vodafone addresses (and is about as spammy as you can get, especially as vodafone nz had NO smtp verification whatsoever last time I checked! No password no nothing! (and yes, only SMTP, unencrypted, on port 25)

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          >Whenever I'm asked for an email address that I don't want to give I use [not.today@nothanks.com] weirdly, no one has said anything about it as they write it down but then I doubt the poor till flunky gives a toss one way or the other.<

          The PFY probably gets a good laugh at the more creative ones. Unless they're really good, they'll never cotton on to the phone number I've given them…. Inland Revenue.

      2. Tinslave_the_Barelegged

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        > This is preparation for allowing iPlayer access only if you have a TV licence.

        Or huge juicy personal detail to show that nice Mr Murdoch when he gets his chequebook out

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        Why can't the Beeb just ask for the TV licence number to register your devices?

      4. cosmogoblin
        Joke

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        It's really simple if you don't want to be profiled. Just use a separate email for each program you watch.

        And, next year, a separate license fee.

    6. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      Here in the UK some companies are already asking for ones email address at the till.

      Maplins did this for about a year fifteen years ago. My response was no@fuckoff.no. Some of the sales staff grinned as they wrote it down, others looked ashamed at what they were required to do.

      Perhaps I should have registered the domain and checked to see if the company still tried to contact me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        Larry.Page@google.com

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

          Audit.LarryP@irs.gov

      2. Brian 18

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        none@your.biz

        A valid enough looking address that conveys exactly how I feel about the question.

      3. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        "no@fuckoff.no"

        I was going to go for mind.your@own.biz

    7. Captain Hogwash
      Meh

      Re: governments worldwide need to get a grip on this tendency to corporate snooping

      Why would they? It's so much cheaper to have corporations do this stuff, thereby lowering taxes & shrinking the state while simultaneously tightening their grip on the populace.

    8. Tachikoma

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      Argos ask for your email address "for warranty purposes in case you lose the receipt"

      No spank you, I have a dedicated drawer for receipts, if I lose it, I accept all responsibility.

      1. fruitoftheloon
        Happy

        @Tachikoma: Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        Tachikoma,

        in case you weren't aware, we do not necessarily need a receipt in the UK for warranty purposes, [iirc] the actual wording in the legislation is 'reasonable proof of purchase'.

        Either way if they give me any sh!t like that when I am about to purchase something, my reply is a polite but firm No!

        In my experience most low-level bods doing that job don't mind in the least...

        Cheers,

        Jay

    9. technoise

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      Aunty Beeb is at it, saying they're going to make a sign-in a requirement for use of iPlayer

      I suspect this may be keeping their options open for moving to a subscription model, at least in part, some time in the future.

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      While I would burn the (...) who came up with this idea, likewise asking for your post code (and whether you have your customer loyalty card on you), I must admit it's a devillishly cunning tactics. I mean, if you don't ask, you don't get, and nobody's going to give them a false e-mail (and what's one false e-mail versus thousands of good ones?). Nothing to lose, the worst they're gonna get is - nothing. And the e-mail they get is probably the main one, of this idiot customer. You ask, you get. Every little helps, said the tesco ladies, asking the question 1,000 every day, 7 days a week, at every till, at every tesco supermarket.

      p.s. every time they ask me this question I'm instantly like, "excuse me?! did you just ask the shade of my foreskin?! Truth is, you can't take it out on the till person, they're only following orders of the (...) above.

      Before the "great British public" realize (if ever) their privacy is worth something... well, their e-mails and postcodes will have been FREELY given away (and probably resold for a good price, being legit / verified / crossed with shopping habits, etc.)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

        And the e-mail they get is probably the main only one, of this idiot customer.

        The whole thinking behind this is predicated on the assumption that people have only one email address.

    11. Lamont Cranston
      Unhappy

      Re: "corporations exist to serve society"

      Oh, stop - my sides are splitting!

    12. inmypjs Silver badge

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      "My response each time is the same - to refuse to give my email address."

      I would give them an email address. Probably gofuck@yourself.com

      "even Aunty Beeb"

      I have created several BBC accounts with similar email addresses.

    13. Haku

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      "I'm also increasingly tending to withdraw cash from a cashpoint prior to going shopping, and purchasing with cash, because I strongly object to all this unwanted invasion of privacy."

      I've been doing that for many years, not only because of the privacy aspect but also so I don't get into debt by spending what I don't have - the increase in availablity of instant money you don't have has near ruined many people's lives.

      Although the privacy aspect does tend to get blown out of the water as soon as I withdraw cash from an ATM at a supermarket then use that cash and my store card in said supermarket.

      Oops.

      But hey at least I have no debts :)

    14. cosmogoblin
      Big Brother

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      I honestly thought I was being overly paranoid by using cash rather than plastic. I mean, sure, technically a shop could record my card info and cross-reference my purchases, but they wouldn't actually do that, would they?

      Farcial recognition </joke> is equally scary, but when Tesco tried to introduce that at the tills, I recall a public backlash followed by a "Sorry, we promise we won't do that after all. Or if we do, it definitely won't be surreptitious and for evil purposes."

      I really wish we could actually make our own choices. Some of us (probably a minority of people but a majority of commentards) would happily pay slightly higher prices to avoid being profiled.

    15. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      The beeb is an easy one.

      They want to check you have a TV licence!

    16. PNGuinn
      Mushroom

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      Yes, get that at Argos - "so that we can email you a copy of your receipt"

      Little lad or lassie gets quite upset when I tell them nicely I don't like spam.

      Together with "Would you like a <short> extended warranty with that for only <slightly less than you just paid for the item>"

      They seem to get even more upset when I sweetly inform them that I've already got up to 6 years under the consumer protection legislation.

      Diddums.

    17. Kiwi Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: We're already being asked for email addresses at the till

      In my opinion, governments worldwide need to get a grip on this tendency to corporate snooping, and make it absolutely clear to corporations, via legislation, if necessary, that corporations exist to serve society, NOT the other way around.

      Unfortunately, the government also wishes to be able to track your every movement. If they try and mandate it, people will revolt.

      But if people, especially the younger generations, get used to it in little bits that don't really seem that bad, then why not?

      We already have the "people who brought this also brought" type of not-quite-tracking ads on various sales sites (eg ebay, trademe etc), we're placing ident chips in our pets and on our crims (well, gps trackers anyway), you can buy gps tracking watches for your kids (so they grow up used to the idea of their every movement being tracked - and any crim kidnapping your bratling will, by now, know to toss the kid's watch, phone, and any other electronic device out the window as quick as they can just before a sudden direction change).

      Each step is a little bit closer to constant tracking of purchases and movements. Then there will be a massive "privacy breach" and instead of all this stuff being shut down, a special government department will be created - Department of Privacy or somesuch, which will exist "to handle all this data and make sure it's handled by the right people because clearly we cannot trust the corporations to do it", and the populace will lap it up while laughing at the few tin-foil-hatters who say it's a bad thing. And of course, as sales are global now, this will be a global "department" with data sharingprivacy monitoring between all participating countries.

      A few "terrorist" governments will not want to be a part of it, but we will soon send in our righteous air force to blow away their nasty chemical weapons labs even though the video footage of the attack that caused outrage seems somewhat suspect to said tin-foil-hatters. And as a result of the outrage, it will be time to send in our forces to take out their democratically elected evil terrorist government.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    get ready for “what's your e-mail address?” from counter staff

    I have my own domain and give a different email address to every organisation I deal with. Makes it easier to know who has been selling my email address off to spammers.

    1. zapgadget

      Re: get ready for “what's your e-mail address?” from counter staff

      I give out a variation of spamfromcompany@mydomain

      Works just fine.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: get ready for “what's your e-mail address?” from counter staff

      Everybody should start answering "abuse@google.com" to that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: get ready for “what's your e-mail address?” from counter staff

        I just tell em to fuck off and mind their own business.

        Immediately removes that fake smile from their boat race and ensures my transaction is completed tout suite.

        1. sabroni Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: I just tell em to fuck off and mind their own business.

          How about you direct that anger at the people setting the policy rather than the minimum wage employee manning the till?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I just tell em to fuck off and mind their own business.

            the problem with directing your anger at the people setting the policy is that it's extremely hard (and, in fact, impossible) - and futile, while the person asking the details is there, in front of you. Sad job for all the possible and impossible reasons :(

            When I say it's "futile", yes, it is, because suggesting that "we should all voice our disagreement at the till so that those setting the policy take notice and change it" is an empty call, given that people who read the register are a tiny minority (tinny voice which doesn't travel very far up, certainly NOT to those "setting the policy"). While the rest of the population carries on, regardless. They just don't give a flying monkey about their privacy.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: I just tell em to fuck off and mind their own business.

              "the problem with directing your anger at the people setting the policy is that it's extremely hard (and, in fact, impossible)"

              Giving a valid address at your country's data regulator is possible and may well be very effective at directing your anger there. Of course if you live in a country that doesn't have such a concept - well, the rest of us feel sorry for you.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I just tell em to fuck off and mind their own business.

            there is no anger.

            And how I conduct my life has sod all to do with anyone but myself.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: get ready for “what's your e-mail address?” from counter staff

          Be nice. The staff on the till need a job to earn money to spend at stores so that Google can farm their details. Just what do Google do then?

      2. arctic_haze

        Re: get ready for “what's your e-mail address?” from counter staff

        Why not "president@whitehouse.gov" or "bgates@microsoft.com"? Both were real addresses before the public (and spammers) learned about them.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: get ready for “what's your e-mail address?” from counter staff

          Don't use real email addresses unless you own them. If you do, you will be causing unsolicited email to be directed at somebody else's email box. That makes you just as bad as the spammers. There is a a reason that we invented example.com ... Me, I use root@127.0.0.1 when I must give an address. Usually a simple "I don't use email" works quite nicely without swearing. Remember, corporate policy isn't the fault of the kid running the POS.

          1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

            Re: get ready for “what's your e-mail address?” from counter staff

            Remember, corporate policy isn't the fault of the kid running the POS.

            I think this is very important to remember. The people on the tills (Or at the end of the phone for cold calls) are not the ones making the decisions. By all means be firm, but keep it polite. They're humans too. How would you like it if some gobby stranger started swearing at your kids doing a Saturday job?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: get ready for “what's your e-mail address?” from counter staff

              Its the millennial till staff who are following the orders, if anyone of them had a backbone they would tell the managers they aren't prepared to do it.

              One thing age has taught me is that it doesn't matter WHAT you are asked to do but whether it is in your contract...

              I'm not a member of the grand curmudgeon club for nothing!

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: get ready for “what's your e-mail address?” from counter staff

            "Remember, corporate policy isn't the fault of the kid running the POS."

            No, that's why directing them to the ICO would be a good move in the UK. Corporate policy might be in for a well-deserved nasty shock if they start spamming that.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: get ready for “what's your e-mail address?” from counter staff

            while the advice is sound and pretty obvious, it's totally misguided, i.e. I doubt very much anyone reading the register would happily give their e-mail address, postcode, etc. to any business, without good reason. The issue is that the mainstream 99.999% of folk - don't mind. That said, why would I worry?! Well... perhaps because at one point they'll decide to close the loop on the refuseniks and make it mandatory, as is happening with some gov. services.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: get ready for “what's your e-mail address?” from counter staff

      "give a different email address to every organisation I deal with"

      Ditto but only for those who I'll need to deal with on a long-term basis. I also set up a new address every few weeks for one-offs and then tear them down.

    4. Hollerithevo

      Re: get ready for “what's your e-mail address?” from counter staff

      Yes, I have a dedicated domain with a good dozen+ emails for just this purpose. It is depressingly enlightening.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: get ready for “what's your e-mail address?” from counter staff

        "It is depressingly enlightening."

        Actually I've found comparatively few who do leak email addresses. This may be because I just give out a series of short-lived email addresses so leaked addresses just bounce.

        The exceptions are Ebay and PayPal who pass on the address to vendors. Even this is rarely abused.

        I very seldom leave feedback at Ebay now simply because if I do it's impossible to then add negative feedback in the event that they do spam. I have left negative feedback in such circumstances. It's against Ebay's T&Cs to spam so I hope they do follow up on such feedback.

        PayPal is a different proposition. The email address is also the login ID. They send a customer's login ID to the merchants! That is downright stupid beyond belief. I've been spammed a couple of times by PayPal merchants. They've been left in no doubt as to what I feel about them and that they've forfeited any chance of further business. It's also been pointed out that the email address makes it quite clear that it was only for PayPal's use and that they have inconvenienced me by forcing me to change it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: get ready for “what's your e-mail address?” from counter staff

          The only real naughty company I have had was Thomson fly. I flew with them once over a decade ago and definitely ticked the "do not send me shit or sell my details" tickbox. I still get emails from random companies addressed to tfly@mydomain.com. The airline doesn't even exist any more.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like bread as much as the next person but I don't really see how this is going to work.

    Take Amazon for example, they already have this information, I bought a bread bin. It holds a loaf and some muffins (oven bottom to avoid the whole roll/barmcake/barm/stoaty debate) so why oh why do they keep sending me emails about bread bins? How much bread do they think I want to store?

    Now if google have this information will they not also need the sellers database of transaction codes to identify which item you bought? That starts getting silly in my mind because then you're going to have huge data sets where you are trying to tie a sale to a specific transaction to an advert to show the advertising was successful. Are they going to use adverts for sellers to claim that was what made me go to their shop? So is this just an exercise in Google trying to justify it's own business model with fake numbers?

    On the other hand this could be a way of taking away privacy in what you spend your money on to be used by governments to profile individuals as it's much easier to get information from google than banks without people noticing.

    1. frank ly

      "How much bread do they think I want to store?"

      I remember when my manager bought a brand new Volvo. Six months later he told us that the dealer had got in touch to try and sell him a brand new Volvo. I suppose he had a 'history' of buying a brand new Volvo :))

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "I remember when my manager bought a brand new Volvo. Six months later he told us that the dealer had got in touch to try and sell him a brand new Volvo."

        Six whole months pester-free? I'd scarcely got my new car home before the dealer started spam texts. It only stopped when I managed to find the MD's email and told him bluntly that the spams had ensured that I never buy from his company again.

      2. DropBear
        Joke

        "I suppose he had a 'history' of buying a brand new Volvo :))"

        Six months is plenty of time to fill up the ashtray in the car - and everybody knows the only reasonable remedy for that is buying a new car...

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Categories

      I bought a bread bin. It holds a loaf and some muffins (oven bottom to avoid the whole roll/barmcake/barm/stoaty debate) so why oh why do they keep sending me emails about bread bins?

      I've mentioned it before, but sellers need to categorise their stuff into three categories, roughly: regular purchases, durable goods and occasional stuff.

      Regular is everything you buy at least once every two weeks or so, like food. You may want to see ads for that if you're interested in knowing what's on special, but usually you have your favourite brands and advertising is rarely effective in changing that. Durable goods are what you buy once every five years at most, and if you've just bought one of that category you are EXTREMELY UNLIKELY to be interested in a second one anytime soon; at best related items like paper or toner if you've just acquired a laser printer. The occasional stuff is probably where the richest pickings for sellers/ad-slingers are, so they might want to concentrate on that.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Categories

        "The occasional stuff is probably where the richest pickings for sellers/ad-slingers are, so they might want to concentrate on that."

        Why would they do that? Don't they want me to buy their stuff?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      IoT anyone?

      Can't wait till they can track you from ad to shop to home.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: IoT anyone?

        New car/bread bin/etc. Well of course you will receive offers right after you bought it, as the seller realized he should have put a higher margin and also that the one you bought is shit and will fall into pieces the next minute.

    4. Wensleydale Cheese

      "Now if google have this information will they not also need the sellers database of transaction codes to identify which item you bought?"

      I can't see any seller who is clued up giving their databases away.

      On the other hand, Google have managed to get Google Maps used by many places where >95% of their customers know exactly where the place is, so maybe.

  5. dvd

    Has anyone ever bought anything on the strength of a web advert? I know that I haven't.

    1. fidodogbreath Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Has anyone ever bought anything on the strength of a web advert?

      Thanks to the miracle of AdGuard, I never even see them.

      With that said -- Google can fsck off and die. I'm sick of the unblinking gaze of the panopticon. From now on, if they want my info they'll have to steal it (as described in this story).

      I've gotten rid of most of our Android crap, and the rest will be gone soon. I'm in the process of disconnecting from almost all of their web services (including Gmail). I can't believe I was stupid enough to give them so much data for so long.

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      "Has anyone ever bought anything on the strength of a web advert? I know that I haven't."

      Short answer is yes. Lots of people, almost certainly including you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Short answer is yes. Lots of people, almost certainly including you.

        Adam, don't be so sure about the OP buying anything on the strength of a web ad. The Op, like several of us, may have all adds blocked on websites and, if they are like me, only go looking for something that I specifically want.

      2. dvd

        Nope, I totally haven't. Why would I care about Google's ads? If I want to buy something then I research it then buy from a trusted retailer or one that offers a good price.

        Why would I care about Google's spam about stuff that I've already bought?

        I might click on a few ads to support a site but that's not the same as buying something.

        1. Adam 52 Silver badge

          " If I want to buy something then I research it then buy from a trusted retailer or one that offers a good price."

          What makes a retailer trusted? Personal experience, yes, but also that they have invested in the brand. Part of that is advertising. A brand that has invested in advertising is more likely to care about quality and more likely to fix problems, out of brand protection.

          The point of a large amount of Internet advertising is to influence the research prior to the purchase decision, to stimulate demand and to influence decision making.

          The AC above hasn't seen the numbers. I have. Dr Syntax says we can lie with stats; we can but I don't (often) lie to myself. More importantly my data mining algorithms don't have a bias, and they tell me advertising works with a huge degree of confidence.

          As for those of you claiming never to have seen an Internet advert in your life ever. Well, I suspect your memory may be faulty.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "A brand that has invested in advertising is more likely to care about quality and more likely to fix problems, out of brand protection."

            A brand that invests heavily in advertising may assume that that's all it needs to do. In fact it may not be able to invest in quality because all the money's gone on the adverts.

            How do your data mining algorithms obtain figures on people who've gone elsewhere because of the ads? Occasionally there may be strong negative feedback - e.g. my complaint to the MD of the car sales firm - but mostly people will go quietly elsewhere. It will be an enormously difficult thing to measure.

      3. Kiwi Silver badge

        Short answer is yes. Lots of people, almost certainly including you.

        Really? And which of those invisible adverts are you going to imagine I brought from?

        Or are you one of those who considers that when I go to a shop's site looking for a specific type of product, and make a purchase based on the products they list, that I am being "advertised to"?

        (Same thing as walking into the shop and saying "What do you have in the way of ...")

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re. Has anyone ever bought anything on the strength of a web advert?

      Unfortunately, while I don't have solid proof (figures), the statistics go against your personal experience (and mine). And I very much doubt the marketing / ad business would be able to lie about those figures on such a massive, world scale to fool those that pay dearly to have their products / services adertised year, after year after year. Sadly, marketing, adverts, do work. Even more sad that they do work, apparently on those that believe the ads don't work on them.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: re. Has anyone ever bought anything on the strength of a web advert?

        "And I very much doubt the marketing / ad business would be able to lie about those figures on such a massive, world scale to fool those that pay dearly to have their products / services adertised year, after year after year."

        There's an excellent book, How to lie with statistics. It ought to be part of everyone's education. In a few years I'll buy the grandkids copies. (If I live so long boxed sets of Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister fill follow.)

        As I've pointed out in another post here they don't measure the sales lost because of advertising pissing off potential customers. By only quoting conversion rates to their customers the advertising industry is lying to them with statistics.

    4. Wensleydale Cheese

      "Has anyone ever bought anything on the strength of a web advert? I know that I haven't."

      The one exception is special offers when I'm already looking at the website concerned. A good offer, when displayed on the landing page, will attract my attention, but that is something the suppliers can do themselves.

      Suppliers really don't need Google for that.

  6. Justin Case

    Clueless & arrogant

    Picked up a virtually unused book for £1.49 from a charity shop. Researched it a bit on my mobile, trying to please myself about what a bargain I'd got, how much money I'd saved. Now ads for that book appear every time I use the browser on my phone.

    Too much Sherlock Holmes, Google chaps. In reality there is a limit to what you can infer about future intentions from past actions.

  7. Tristan

    I already use cash for most purchases except fuel, that might be expanded. They'd know which cashpoint I visited and how much I may have got out, plus which shops I went in even then.

    Not willing to forgo taking a phone with me, but that seems the only solution if I went to be private.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      They'd know which cashpoint I visited

      Your bank knows, Google can only infer your visit from your Android collecting location data and the time you spend near an ATM.

      And if you're in Europe, your bank is in for some unpleasant regulatory action if they even think of using this info unless it's directly related to their own business.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: They'd know which cashpoint I visited

        "Google can only infer your visit from your Android collecting location data and the time you spend near an ATM."

        I shall stick with my Nokia C5 a little longer.

  8. jake Silver badge

    Told you so. At least 7 years ago ...

    ... here. But would anybody listen? Enjoy your gooverse, sheeple. You've earned it.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Told you so. At least 7 years ago ...

      As have some of the rest us, yet still the downvotes.

      The human race really is its own worst enemy.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what

    You know when I first read this article, I was concerned.... and then I read the comments here... and thought about it and thought so what?

    You know, to be honest I don't care if Google/some shady organisation knows what brand of toilet rolls I buy and when and from whom. Yes I am aware of the Big Brother nature of this and that this is the start of a slippery slope, blah blah.

    But... nothing's changed - I've had a Tesco's Clubcard for years. Back in the 70s my dad ran a grocery store, he used to target certain customers for special offers...

    I use an ad-blocker. My purchasing requirements are insanely dull. Good luck to Google and whoever if they want to waste their time and money working out how many packets of fig rolls I buy and if they try to sell me Jammie Dodgers....

    1. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: So what

      But... nothing's changed - I've had a Tesco's Clubcard for years. Back in the 70s my dad ran a grocery store, he used to target certain customers for special offers...

      My butcher does the same. The huge difference here is that your dad and my butcher have taken the time (even if indirect) to get to know regulars and wish to thank those regulars for continued custom. I used to do the same as well. Also, I've watched other store owners who have someone in who doesn't really know what they're after. Thanks experience and a little guesswork they can make suggestions that might be helpful.

      Vastly different from the "this person likes used tampons and hasn't brought any this week, we'll try to sell them some" or "this person brought a lawnmower last week, we'll try to sell him some women's magazines (coz they're clearly related!) this week" guff from the larger providers.

      It's not what's being done today with my private details that bothers me, it's what will be tried in the future.

  10. pleb

    Android Pay?

    I'm guessing that using Android Pay might not be a good idea then? Does anyone know what data Google gets from an Android Pay transaction? Do they get any other data just from your membership of Android Pay?

    1. inmypjs Silver badge

      Re: Android Pay?

      "anyone know what data Google gets from an Android Pay transaction"

      They are in bed with the retailers and get everything.

      Needed so they can provide essential features like automatically tweeting what flavour latte you just google paid for in twatbucks.

  11. Doctor_Wibble
    Terminator

    Know your place, fleshies!

    Your device is more important than you, even the credit card information is only to augment the completeness of its immortal soul as part of the big-data collective consciousness.

    You exist only to serve, to be the transports for these disadvantaged devices that are not yet self-mobile. You will carry them with you and pander to their every whim, leap to service their every bleep and blibble, you will go where they tell you, and feed them power every time they demand it.

    And you will claim it is all through choice and free will.

    1. tedleaf

      Re: Know your place, fleshies!

      Some of us screw Google etc about by using dual/multi boot device's,I quite often go days without booting one of the many flavours of android I can boot into,but I like my devices simple for everyday use so tend to have my old HTC hd2 booted into winmo 6.5,no tracking,no ads,no nothing,if I want/need something from an a droid Rom,I boot into which ever one I need or that is this weeks favourite,takes about 30 seconds to reboot from os to os or Rom to Rom..

      And exactly how many fools out there are trying to hack winmo 6.5 users,security through redundncy.

  12. Bloodbeastterror

    "to bolster its case that advertising on the platform works"

    Say what? How does that work exactly? I shop in Aldi. I've never seen a Google ad for Aldi, so I can't be shopping there because I've been influenced by the ad. So how exactly does this persuade Aldi that advertising with Google works?

    No, this is just more Google empire-building for enhancement of their Skynet. Brave new world or what...?

    1. Just Enough

      Re: "to bolster its case that advertising on the platform works"

      Your training as a consumer-droid will fix this situation.

      You will buy what Google Ads tells you to buy, and anything you buy will be because a Google Ad told you. All hail Google.

  13. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    Screwfix

    A few people above have said that they refuse to give their email address (or postcode, whatever) when asked for it in a shop. Me too. But has anyone ever witnessed someone else refusing? The place where I'm asked most often is Screwfix, and I've literally never seen anyone else decline to disclose who they are. This despite Screfix, unlike "Tesco Clubcard", not offering any vouchers / discounts etc. in exchange for your data.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Screwfix

      I get one mail per week. Normally not interested but goes straight to junk anyway.

  14. bazza Silver badge

    Oh for Pity's Sake

    1. Privacy

    Here in the UK, the reason we have loyalty cards is because it is illegal for stores to tie purchase information (e.g. who you are and what you bought) to your credit card details. A loyalty card comes with T&Cs that specifically allow the store to do this.

    I can't see how on earth Google getting round that could ever be considered legal. Anonymised, my arse.

    2. Irony

    Given that stores are, quite often, also customers of advertising agencies, why on earth would they ever want to participate in this? It sounds like a way of paying/helping Google to cook up a only slightly-less-than-phoney reason for putting their advert prices up.

    3. Turf Takeover?

    Also it seems like a way for Google to get the same kind of data that the store loyalty cards collect, only more so. Surely this is diluting the value of the store's own collected data? I mean, the contents of one's grocery shop can surely be used to mine information about what sort of mood different types of customer are in, and that is valuable data that the supermarket can aggregate and sell.

    However if Google can generate that kind of data nationwide, through the back door, their version of this type of data is going to be far more comprehensive than any one single chain of stores, who then won't be able to find a secondary market for the data they already collect. And tailored advertising can be pushed to specific people, based on everything they've ever bought anywhere by any means. No thanks.

    1. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Oh for Pity's Sake

      "I can't see how on earth Google getting round that could ever be considered legal."

      Since when have Google been bothered about the law?

    2. virtual insanity

      Re: Oh for Pity's Sake

      "Here in the UK, the reason we have loyalty cards is because it is illegal for stores to tie purchase information"

      I've been using cash more and more based on an assumption that retailers store your card details for buying patterns, even if they don't have full details of who you are. This article seems to agree https://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/jun/08/supermarkets-get-your-data

      Does anyone know details of any law forbidding this?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh for Pity's Sake

        Looks like they use a hash (or something like that) of the card number, not the card number itself, to anonymise the card number.

        This achieves what they want without explicitly handling card numbers. They don't need for know exactly who you are, just so long as they can target ads at you.

        But this then creates a risk that one 'mistake' (ie someone associates the hash with the actual card number) in one place blows the whole purchasing history...

        Also such sharing does mean that the shop assistant, the actual person you're dealing with may be able to see exactly what you've bought where, and when. For example, this means that snotty cashier in Sainsbury may know you've been to Ann Summer's. And if they don't, Sainsbury corporately will. And they're not telling you in advance that they do this, or to what extent the shop assistant's access goes other than some vague T&Cs on your card.

        And so will Google, if you've carried your phone with you...

    3. inmypjs Silver badge

      Re: Oh for Pity's Sake

      "I can't see how on earth Google getting round that could ever be considered legal."

      They will just buy some new laws by buying politicians that make them.

    4. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: Oh for Pity's Sake

      I can't see how on earth Google getting round that could ever be considered legal. Anonymised, my arse.

      It's a 2-part process. 1) Google will toss money at lobbying the government to allow such a law.

      2) To prove the populace don't care, google will toss some privacy-stealing apps or OS or something their way, and show the government just how much the populace give away willingly.

      2b) The populace, who rightly should care and be up in arms about this, will vehemently sit on their arses and ignore it because to much effort/new shiny.

  15. LDS Silver badge

    Google may be afraid someone is about to discover the king is naked...

    ... and needs a new way to lull its customers into believing web advertising actually works, and not only for Google. So they will sell them more useless, Google-controlled, metrics

    How a purchase could be matched with ads - if the purchase doesn't start directly from the ad is something for DeepMind probably.

    Guess they will just say blatant lies - i.e. someone spends time on a photographic forum, where of course photo gear related ads may appear, so if this person buys something photographic related Google will tell "it's because of our ads placement!!!!", and not because the forum subject...

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Google may be afraid someone is about to discover the king is naked...

      It kinda doesn't matter. If your competitors advertise, you advertise yourself to keep the playing field level. It doesn't matter if it's all bollocks, no one is prepared to risk not advertising...

      What Google has done is to massively expand the number of advertising opportunities. Before Google there were only so many bill boards, TV programs magazines and newspapers to place ads in. It was saturated.

      Google simply extended the dimensions of the playing field, and keeps creating new ones (search, maps, mail, Android, etc). Not for nothing is it called advertising blackmail...

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "It kinda doesn't matter. If your competitors advertise,"

        Up to a certain amount. People spending a lot of money in advertising, are not stupid, and attempt to measure ROI - and if some channels look to be a waste of money, they could reduce or stop the money invested there.

        Reports that a lot of ads are never seen by humans, and view statistics are skewed, are news that surely reached marketing corner offices as well. The fact that many media attempting to sustain themselves through ads are in trouble, is also an indication that very few people click through. And there were also the ad-blocker issue, and the ads displayed together utterly wrong contents.

        Google needs to sustain its most lucrative business, and like mostly everything in marketing, it goes through deceiving customers....

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Google may be afraid someone is about to discover the king is naked...

      The way it was done in the old days of TV advertising was simple. You sell x widgets. You advertised during Coronation Street and you sell x+n widgets. You stop advertising, your sales drop, you start your sales increase. Correlation is not causation but who cares if you've got a lever that makes sales go up.

      These days there are some hugely clever stats PhDs and more logs to mine but the basics are the same.

      As the poster above says, the Internet has massively increased the available ad space with a corresponding drop in price.

      And that's before we even get started on real-time bidding.

  16. I Like Heckling

    What Ads... What Shops?

    My solution is simple

    1: I never look at ads

    2: I have never bought anything because of an ad I saw (instead I decide I have a need/desire for something and go looking, do my research and have no real brand loyalty to anything except perhaps a findness for Japanese cars)

    3: 95% of all my shopping is done online from a google free browser, my net searches are done via duckduckgo and when I do actually go into a shop it's some kind of food store for my fortnightly shop or top up... or a petrol station.

    On the rare occasion I go into a department store, it's purely to check out something in the flesh before going home and ordering it online... In fact I occasionally play the Dixons baiting game, where i go into a store to check out a product... wait for a sales drone to 'eventually' saunter up and try to sell me something.. confuse them with questions that require they actually have knowledge of a product and whilst they're taking their time looking stuff up... order it online and tell them it was quicker to look up the answers and order for free delivery when they come back.

    It's fun for all the family.. cheaper than taking the kids to the safari park to watch the monkeys and just as much fun.

    1. pleb

      Re: What Ads... What Shops?

      All ecosystems suffer from parasites. Some are more irritating than others.

    2. IsJustabloke
      FAIL

      Re: What Ads... What Shops?

      "wait for a sales drone to 'eventually' saunter up and try to sell me something... and blah blah blah "

      yeah because the poor schmuck trying to make a living needs to have his/her day improved by twunts like you. That sort of behaviour doesn't make you big or clever or admirable... it makes you a twunt.

      I manage to do all that you've described without involving some minimum wage flunky just trying to make their way in the world.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: What Ads... What Shops?

        yeah because the poor schmuck trying to make a living needs to have his/her day improved by twunts like you.

        Supply and demand. Employees are paid that way because the shops think it increases sales. A customer strike will change their minds very, very rapidly or they go out of business. Like Comet did. Shopping there was just horrible.

    3. bazza Silver badge

      Re: What Ads... What Shops?

      1: I never look at ads

      2: I have never bought anything because of an ad I saw...

      One thing missing. As a consumer you have paid for the ad whether of not you saw it. For example, if you buy a particular brand of washing powder, you are contributing to the cost of the advertising of that brand regardless of whether you saw the ad or not.

      All told, Internet advertising costs each UK bread winner about £200 a year regardless of what phone they have and what ads they see (UK online advertising is about £7billion per year). Would you pay £200 per year to use Google's services? Sounds quite expensive to me for what you get...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a very specific email address that is used for these kinds of things.

    it's

    "thisisaspamtrapaddress@" not telling you the rest because then I'll be inundated with more spam to the spam trap that I never actually check unless I have to confirm a link. I actually have to sign into a webmail account to do that, which is always done via a VPN through some server in a far away european country.

    For some reason, people tend to disbelieve that it's actually a real email addy, but it really is.

    1. DropBear

      Believe me or not as you please, but I was doing this almost exact thing for a long while with a "dev.null@" address that was actually working just fine in spite of its ominous nomenclature. I no longer have it though unfortunately...

  18. Roger Kynaston Bronze badge

    Loyalty cards

    If there are regulatory blocks to Google collecting this information in some countries like Blighty I should imagine that they will buy up Nectar at some point.

    Makes me glad that I never signed up to any of those things in the first place. I had a polite argument with some poor lady trying to persuade me to get a nectar card in a Sainscrap one day. She flat out denied that it was used to collect marketing data on my shopping habits.

  19. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Big Brother

    Targeted advertising?

    To be honest I have never encountered a targeted advert that was of the slightest interest. They seem to offer further quantities of stuff you're already selected and purchased or "people who bought this, bought that".

    What's (tinfoil hat on) really going on...?

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Targeted advertising?

      Maybe not, but you're still paying for it all through the price of goods you buy. About £200 for each wage earner per year in the UK for online advertising.

      If you buy brand X, and that's advertised anywhere, you are paying for that advertising. And what isn't advertised at least somewhere...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Use the CEO's email address

    Or just their info@ address.

    Screw the corporates

  21. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Assuming for a moment that this scheme does exactly what Google claim it still won't measure the actual effect of advertising. In order to do that they'd also need to measure the negative effects - who bought what instead of a product that had been advertised at them because the advertising pissed them off.

    Nobody in advertising or marketing will risk doing that. As long as they don't know they can plausibly deny that such an effect exists. The advertising industry can keep on selling to marketing and marketing can keep drawing their pay. Knowledge would seriously disrupt this cozy arrangement.

    Remember folks, the only thing the advertising industry sells is adverts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To be fair

      It also helps support this fine website.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: To be fair

        Yes, but as people have remarked here before. It's not seeing the ads that bother me. It's the tracking.

  22. tedleaf

    Stuff google

    My new email,just registered with Google..

    Shoplifter10@Gmail.com

    I wonder who has shoplifter 1-9 ?

    This should get me a few looks when given to shop staff !!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stuff google

      Hi

      Interested in some hookey gear?

      Rodney

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Stuff google

        "Rodney"

        Still working as DelBoy's runner?

  23. Nick L

    GDPR...

    I am at a loss to understand how this could possibly work in when GDPR is being enforced, which is a year and a day away... Presumably "consent" will be required, but I still think this may be problematic with the new legislation. Thankfully.

  24. Matthew 17

    So when it shows advertising doesn't work, no-one is influenced by them

    Will the house of cards that is Google finally tumble?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So when it shows advertising doesn't work, no-one is influenced by them

      It'll work. It'll work because the results will be biased. It will only show conversions from adverts and not the potential customers lost because of being pestered.

  25. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Thanks for the reminder guys.

    I've had some of my throwaway addresses for too long, so I've just deleted them all and set up new ones :)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Junk mail folder anyone?

    I know it isn't perfect, but it avoids having to read their mail.

    The account has spurious information attached to it.

    Also have a separate account for the real stuff.

    I know it's not perfect but it's simpler if everyone did it.

    Anonymous becomes it seems appropriate, unless the mighty El Reg is farming my data too.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For a giggle.

    If every day we all searched for something we will never buy and has no interest to us, this will lead to the devaluation of their ads. It will disrupt their view of us and therefore the value of the information they have on us.

    It will mean receiving ads we don't want, but because we're not interested in them we can have a little giggle.

    Go on, you know you want to.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All watched over by machines of loving grace.

    Look it up as I can't improve on it.

  29. MrKrotos

    Use the CEO's addy :P

    If in halfords use ceo@halfords.co.uk etc....

  30. ForthIsNotDead

    Well...

    Last Sunday I bought a new laptop from Currys-or-whatever-its-called-this-week-maybe-its-Dixons-it-surely-isn't-Rumbelows-no-they-went-years-agao-maybe-its-PC-World-oh-fuck-it-I-can't-remember and the young chap asked me for my email address.

    I hesitated but I gave him the info. 30 seconds later my phone buzzed and there was an email from the company named above thanking me for my purchase and attaching my proof of purchase and warranty details.

    So it's not all bad.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Well...

      "there was an email from the company named above thanking me for my purchase and attaching my proof of purchase and warranty details."

      I think I'd want the proof of purchase in writing printed out by them from their till. And no email.

  31. tcoburn

    Bring it on

    The more I see an ad for something the more I begin to hate it and will go out of my way not to buy it.

  32. Rimpel
    Unhappy

    Cashback sites receive your card transaction details

    The 2 main cashback sites in the uk both have similar schemes whereby you can register your credit/debit card with them and then by using that card for purchases in certain high st retailers you automatically receive a % cashback in your account.

    I'm not sure exactly how they get the data but I've never been particularly comfortable with the fact that this is possible. So I presume it must be fairly easy for anyone to get hold of all of your credit card transactions, google included.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It's company policy…"

    For some people, it seems that resistance is only an acceptable option if it costs nothing.

    Every time a low-level clerk explains shitheaded behaviour with the words, "It's company policy for us to collect this information." I hear echoes of "I was only following orders." Has that ever been a justifiable defense?

    If your employer demands that you do a stupid thing and you go ahead and do the stupid thing, it's still YOU doing a stupid thing and you thoroughly deserve the shit you get for doing it.

    1. pleb

      Re: "It's company policy…"

      AC: "If your employer demands that you do a stupid thing and you go ahead and do the stupid thing, it's still YOU doing a stupid thing and you thoroughly deserve the shit you get for doing it."

      How is it their fault they work for assholes? But, whereas they would have to put their livelihood at risk to challenge them, you could do it risk free. Why expect others to risk their house for what you won't do yourself for nada?

  34. Gis Bun

    Google is getting out of hand with their privacy invasion.

    I try and disable everything I can related to them.

    With their crap, soon you'll walk into a store, buy a loaf of bread and milk and the cashier will say "Don't take out your Interact card. We have it already."

  35. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Won't prove a damn thing

    Since the data is anonymised, no third party can check Google's analysis without "taking Google's word for it" on a whole range of questions around the data collection and accuracy. If you are prepared to take Google's word for it on this or any other issue, this data won't make you any more likely to trust them. Therefore, the exercise is useless for the stated purpose.

    So, Google, what's the real purpose?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Won't prove a damn thing

      "So, Google, what's the real purpose?"

      Money.

      At the end of the day it's always just money.

  36. WildW

    Stores? I remember those.

    Who buys things in shops any more? Internet shopping has killed the traditional shopping experience - anything worth having has had to come mail-order for years.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Stores? I remember those.

      I have never purchased anything online. Why would I? If I need/want something, I can get it faster, and cheaper, in person. For literally any value of "it".

    2. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: Stores? I remember those.

      Who buys things in shops any more?

      Me. Somewhere I can take things back to if I need to, without having to pay reverse shipping. I can look at the product "in the flesh" and make a decision based on things like the real size of the product, not what it looks like in the "only-slightly-edited-HONEST" online picture, can make impulse buys based on what my gut is telling me ("chocolate would be good right now"/"those biccies make me queezy"), and I can quickly make judgements about design decisions and other stuff when buying hardware/tools etc of any sort (recently had to change the design of something I'm building because the parts IRL didn't match the parts IMME).

      I sometimes buy online, but only where the parts can't be got locally or the price is significantly different (eg 2 items I brought for $30 recently do the job of one item I can only find locally for $177, with some extra wiring and mounting - 10mins labour).

      I may research items/possibilities online, but you can't really know how they'll fit till you have them in your hands.

  37. Marty McFly
    Flame

    Protect your privacy!

    Avoid the tricky 'pay with your phone' bravo-sierra. Cash, cash, cash! Always cash.

    "Oh, but you can save two-bits by joining our rewards program". More bravo-sierra. My privacy is worth more to me than two-bits!!! Sadly, most people don't see it that way and gladly sell off that which they should be keeping private.

  38. ancient-strider

    Google might get very confused

    What will G make of someone who buys incontinence pads, then nappies, then a dress, then a suit?

    How do they figure who had the phone at those times?

    Can they tell who is using the 'family' phone, any one of three people, or the family card.

    They can have my email - the one I give but never access.

    Again it's one out of several.

    Unless I am an incontinent cross dresser with a fetish for nappies {: - [

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Google might get very confused

      "Unless I am an incontinent cross dresser with a fetish for nappies"

      Jersey Jim! Where you been, man?

  39. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    brian.cohen@JudeanPeoplesFront.org

    1. jake Silver badge

      Poor old Brian is going to get inundated with spam.

      And that was previously a spam-free email address, too. What did Brian do to you to deserve this kind of treatment?

      $ dig JudeanPeoplesFront.org

      ; <<>> DiG 9.10.4-P8 <<>> JudeanPeoplesFront.org

      ;; global options: +cmd

      ;; Got answer:

      ;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 2624

      ;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 1

      ;; OPT PSEUDOSECTION:

      ; EDNS: version: 0, flags:; udp: 4096

      ;; QUESTION SECTION:

      ;JudeanPeoplesFront.org. IN A

      ;; ANSWER SECTION:

      JudeanPeoplesFront.org. 14400 IN A 69.163.166.136

      ;; Query time: 57 msec

      ;; SERVER: 192.168.1.254#53(192.168.1.254)

      ;; WHEN: Thu May 25 10:08:06 PDT 2017

      ;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 67

  40. GrumpyOldMan

    Encryption??

    "To accomplish this, we developed a new, custom encryption technology that ensures users' data remains private, secure, and anonymous," claims Google.

    Not in May's post-Brexit Blighty you won't chaps. Unless you've backdoored it!

    So does that mean my Blackberry Z10 that I've had since it's launch with the new update that gives me gov't level encryption will be illegal?

  41. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    So when the slutty credit card gets stolen, in addition to the inconvenience of cancelling the card and replacing it I will now also be deluged in targeted ads for state of the art video cards, SCUBA equipment and dog grooming salon supplies (all real uses others have put various cards of mine to without my permission)?

    Not sure whether to be annoyed at irrelevant targeted ads (as if there were any other kind) or overjoyed at the sheer cobblers this will make of Google's $Data_Mine{$Stevie}, already half-bolloxed by my wanton and surrealistic browsing habits.

  42. Geezheeztall

    Data Collection Fatigue

    I don't want your newsletter, don't care to save 5 cents on wax paper, and if it is company policy, that's your problem, not mine. You're not getting my home, mobile number or my email address.

    If I haven't complained yet, you're doing fine, but I'm not filling a survey for some mundane purchase, nor do I care if there's a chance to win a $500 prize if I do.

    I'm not in your computer, and don't want to be, thanks. Besides, I'm in for a hair cut. By the way, my dog's interest in squeaky toys doesn't warrant your need for my home address.

    I'm not interested in your cashback cards or store credit no matter how far you follow me down the isle, I'm not collecting points, and again, no email, I'll take that paper receipt, thanks.

    This bitching exercise doesn't even cover my mobile and related apps, laptop, etc. It's a losing battle.

  43. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Be creative and have fun

    I was alive when phone phreaking was at it's peak. While much of that intel is no longer valid there are still test phone numbers that do nothing but ring or have a busy signal. The loopback numbers are gone. One number I have used a lot that just rings is getting filtered from a few places when I have used it so They® might be getting wise to the practice.

    A good tactic might be to keep the number of different government offices on hand. Let's say a number for trading practices or any mob that investigates spammers. Not the main published number. That will likely be filtered. Find an unpublished number that rings a staff member or internal division desk. The same goes for email. Get the naming format for a large company which is often First.Last@Company.co.uk and invent names at will. For a large company, chances are good that any combination of common names will be a valid address.

    Lie with a cause. The more spam that gets routed to a government office that regulates advertising, the more they will see what the rest of us put up with. The same goes for large companies. If their system is getting a bunch of spam from a domain, the domain will be blocked and they might share that info with a company that maintains filtering lists. Using a rude fake email address doesn't accomplish anything.

    Shop brick and mortar stores. Pay cash. Provide bogus information when asked. If the person at the till is attractive, use the conversation to get their info. Chances are the number will be fake too.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They call it 'closing the loop'

    But what they really mean is 'tightening the noose'...

  45. gfrevivus

    Google and data

    Simple answer don't use Google for anything including its OS. There are other search providers ( e.g. DuckDuckGo )or use a VPN. As regards card tracking there are RFID shields which block the signal from your card. Lobby your MP to stop Google taking your data as in Deep Mind and the NHS. My view of data protection is that the data you create is based on your personality and identity so taking your data for other than strictly limited and upfront purposes should be regarded as seriously as identity theft and the perpetrators charged and punished accordingly and directors of the company that does it classed as principals in the malfeasance.

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