Posted by: justinsleary
Posted: 3rd Oct 2019
I haven't had an ad come up on my phone related to a phone conversation, as I only typically use the internet on my computer, not phone, but I have to say that that is pretty creepy! On my computer, I do get ads that are clearly targeted based on my behaviour, and I find these intrusive and a subtle invasion of privacy. I find that targeted ads are a privacy invasion as they are clearly using techniques that I do not choose nor do not wish to have such data gathered. For example, I can be logged out of all websites and services, yet through persistent 3rd party tracking cookies, my data is logged and persistent throughout a browser session. Now even more they are using location and/or IP addresses so that we are being "fingerprinted" and tracked over time.
Unfortunately these sorts of targeted ads are not making my life more convenient, and are an invasion of privacy. They are not making my life more convenient largely as the machine learning and algorithms used are not smart enough. As an example of this, I often get targeted ads for products I have just purchased! For example, I might buy a toothpaste online, and then later on facebook I get ads for the same toothpaste I have just bought! Silly, as I just bought it, so why would I want to buy it again immediately?
Why I say it is a privacy invasion is that you or I are only seeing part of the picture. We see an ad for something that we just bought, or perhaps something we are searching for, but the same data an algorithms might well be tracking our medical searches, personal searches and the like. I might have a skin condition that I google about, and yet it is possible that some tracking data is logging this information into a database the have on me. So I feel that this sort of "convenience" is not really a convenience, but a serious invasion of privacy. Imagine if I went to the Doctors a week later and as soon as we shake hands he asks "how is your skin condition?"