Googlebuster fights back against behavioral advertising

Fri, Mar 13, 2009 at 6:28 am

    One of the editors of Adbusters magazine has a populist strategy to create an online revolt against Google’s latest forray into targeted online advertising, a tactic that Congress Quarterly reports, from behind its subscription wall, caught the eye of federal lawmakers Wednesday.

    Google announced this week that it would target advertising to individuals’ online behavior, using data collected from personal browsing habits. While an "opt out" feature puts control over participation in the users’ hands, the tactic of behaviorial tracking and personalized advertising crossed a line than many privacy advocates feel needs to be restored. Micah White has a plan for what we calls "click fraud" to send false clicks to Google and cause the company to rethink its privacy policies, much in the same way Facebook recently did.

    As White says in his blog, which contains instructions for Googlebusting:

    The disregard for user privacy is a long standing tradition at Google and one that should be challenged. Just as Facebook was recently forced to cave after protests,
    Google too can be made to backtrack from their creeping violations of
    our privacy. Every company has their weak point, for Facebook it is the
    fear that users will stop using the site, and for Google it is the
    necessity of increasing their advertising revenue. I propose that we
    collectively embark on a civil disobedience campaign of intentional,
    automated “click fraud” in order to undermine Google’s advertising
    program with the goal of forcing Google to adopt a pro-privacy
    corporate policy.

    Google has told all of its "Adsense" advertising partners, hundreds of thousands of websites that use the program, to amend their privacy policies to acknowledge that users will be tracked and their data sold based on their browsing habits.  One such memo from Google and privacy across the Internet changes. That should get the Justice Department thinking hard about busting the Google Trust, and all us to consider Micah White’s proposal. 

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