Recently, I received a letter from the fine folks at Gallup and Google offering me the chance to participate in their Online Insight Study. By doing so, I can earn up to $130 in gift cards each year. Where do I sign up?! But it says, “Limited time offer. Terms and conditions apply.” Hmm…
What Is The Online Insights Study?
It is “a research project coordinated by Google” that “will help Google develop measurement solutions that improve online advertising by putting user privacy first.” Google is improving its product by putting user privacy first? Sounds interesting, but this doesn’t sound like Google! Perhaps I should look into this!
Gallup (other than this invitation, I see no other involvement by Gallup in this study) personally selected me from all the addresses in the United States. How exclusive, how special! They must really want me! Wait a second, who is this addressed to? “Dear Massachusetts Resident”. Well, OK, I guess they will accept anyone.
Google offers up to $130/year. Hmm, what does that mean? Nothing in the letter. Off to Google’s Online Insights Study website. The offer is up to $78 per year for my phone and up to $52 for ALL my other devices. So now I need to enroll at least two devices!
The site says I’m in control (look at that reassuring image). Sounds great!
The Terms And Conditions
Google will install “meters” on my devices. Generally, a meter (speedometer, thermometer, etc.) is a device that measures one item. But Google is actually installing applications capable of collecting much more than that!
Google will collect and record interactions with my device. This includes content (YES CONTENT!) and advertising.
Here is a much-abbreviated list:
- Internet Activity – including every web page and all my interactions
- Apps & operating systems – Every interaction with any application, widget, and the operating system
- Information – All information I provide or input when visiting websites or using applications
- Device information – All information about my device when it is powered on including location information and diagnostic information
OK, so EVERYTHING? No, Google promises not to record my passwords. So everything except passwords. Remember, Google is putting user privacy first!
Not only will Google collect EVERYTHING (except passwords) from my devices, but it will combine this information with information obtained from third parties (academic institutions, advertisers, publishers, data brokers, programming networks, and other entities that study consumer behavior and audience measurement).
Google will then combine this data and the study data with non-identifying information collected from additional third parties. Now, “pseudonymous information” may become personally identifiable and be used to identify me. Again, putting user privacy first!
Will My Data Be Shared?
Yup! Google will share data with its Study Partners or other third parties, such as academic institutions, advertisers, publishers, data brokers, programming networks, and other entities studying consumer behavior and audience measurement.
But My Data Is Stored Securely?
Nope! Google’s security measures apply “only to Google’s storage of data on its own systems. They do not apply to data on other systems that are not owned or controlled by Google”.
At Least I Still Own My Data!
Nope! “Google (or Google’s licensors) own all legal rights, title, and interest in and to the Study, including any intellectual property rights in the Study (whether those rights happen to be registered or not, and wherever in the world those rights may exist)”.
If Something Happens Am I Covered?
Nope! “YOUR PARTICIPATION IN THE STUDY IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK.” And, “GOOGLE, AND GOOGLE’S SUPPLIERS, DISTRIBUTORS, AND STUDY PARTNERS, WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR LOST PROFITS, REVENUES, OR DATA, FINANCIAL LOSSES OR INDIRECT, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES.” BTW, that is Google shouting!
In Google’s Online Insights Study, every month I have the potential to earn the equivalent of a cup or two of coffee. In exchange, I just need to give up ALL my information (except passwords) and have it be shared with practically anyone. I may no longer own my data, my data may not be stored securely, and I have no recourse if anything happens. It is good that Google is putting user privacy first! Let me know in the comments whether you will be signing up.