Google Data Collection, Professor Douglas C. Schmidt, Vanderbilt University August 15, 2018: “Google is the world’s largest digital advertising company.1It also provides the #1 web browser, the #1 mobile platform,3and the #1 search engine4worldwide. Google’s video platform, email service, and map application have over 1 billion monthly active users each.5Google utilizes the tremendous reach of its products to collect detailed information about people’s online and real-world behaviors, which it then uses to target them with paid advertising. Google’s revenues increase significantly as the targeting technology and data are refined.2.Google collects user data in a variety of ways. The most obvious are “active,”with the user directly and consciously communicating information to Google, as for example by signing into any of itswidely used applications such as YouTube, Gmail, Search etc. Less obvious ways for Google to collect data are “passive” means, whereby an application is instrumented to gather information while it’s running, possibly without the user’s knowledge.
Google’s passive data gathering methods arise from platforms (e.g. Android and Chrome), applications (e.g.Search, YouTube, Maps), publisher tools (e.g. Google Analytics, AdSense) and advertiser tools (e.g. AdMob, AdWords). The extent and magnitude of Google’s passive data collection has largely been overlooked by past studies on this topic…”