February 20, 2014 10:00 am -

Since June, when the first leaks from Edward Snowden went public and a debate about the National Security Agency’s activities resumed, there’s been very little, if any, discussion about the unchecked, unaccountable use of corporate surveillance against consumers and citizens in general.

Corporations engaged in the collection of customer data are each their own NSA, without the oversight. There’s no equivalent of the FISA Court; no warrants; no requirements for minimization; it’s not restricted to anonymous metadata; and it’s everywhere.

Recently, a series of eye-opening examples of corporate surveillance popped up in the news with, of course, none of the accompanying public outrage that invariably careens at hyperspeed through the discourse every time another Snowden document drops. Here are just a few:

1) Google confesses to data-mining emails in its education apps.

There’s an ongoing class action lawsuit in California against the tech giant for data-mining emails for purposes of delivering targeted ads to Gmail users. Not too long ago, Google revised its privacy policy in order to make this process even more effective. At the time, Google didn’t expand the policy to Google Apps for Education, used by students. But it turns out Google has, in fact, been data-mining student emails via the apps, according to a court documents from the lawsuit obtained by

2) Google-Plus isn’t very popular, but it helps Google build “a database of your affinities.”

If you’re on Google-Plus, Google can follow, collect and process your online activities on YouTube and Google Maps — what your likes and dislikes are, your search history, as well as all of your personally identifiable information in your profile. It can track you even after you click away from its social media platform. Therefore, even though the service only has a fraction of the users of, say, Facebook, it doesn’t matter because Google has determined there’s a significant benefit in having access to such a broad, albeit smaller, database of user information. Your information. The New York Times:

“The database of affinity could be the holy grail for more effective brand advertising,” said Nate Elliott, an analyst at Forrester studying social media and marketing.

Google says the information it gains about people through Google Plus helps it create better products — like sending traffic updates to cellphones or knowing whether a search for “Hillary” refers to a family member or to the former secretary of state — as well as better ads. […]

“It is literally promotion that money can’t buy,” Mr. Elliott said. “It is something that Google could make billions off of if they sell that space tomorrow, and they’re giving it away to try to get people onto the social platform.”

It’s worth mentioning again that one of two web bugs on Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept website is Google Analytics… [CONTINUE READING HERE]

Bob Cesca