They say there is no such thing as a free lunch, which is why despite Google’s products and services being largely free-to-use, in exchange, you are kind of turning over some of your personal data to the company. This data can then be used for marketing purposes, which is why seeing targeted ads is no longer particularly surprising.
However, it seems that Google could be going the extra step when it comes to tracking users, and this time without their knowledge. According to a report from the Financial Times (paywall), the Brave browser has accused Google of tracking users through hidden web pages, where they take the information that it has on the user and then uses it for advertisements.
This was initially discovered by Brave’s chief policy officer, Johnny Ryan, who discovered these secret web pages after he found his tracking data being traded on Google’s advertising exchange, Authorized Buyers. This information has since been sent to Irish data regulators for their investigation.
In response to the discovery, a Google spokesperson was quoted as saying, “We do not serve personalised ads or send bid requests to bidders without user consent.” We should note that Brave is a Google competitor in terms of browsers, so that’s something to take into consideration regarding whether or not they could have a personal interest in this.