Google Paying You to Give Up Your Privacy?

Google Paying You to Give Up Your Privacy?

Google PrivacyGoogle has just launched (albeit quietly) another initiative aimed at further delving into web users’ browing habits, with the introduction of Screenwise. This is what the search engine company has to say to would-be participants in this new opt-in program:

You’ll add a browser extension that will share with Google the sites you visit and how you use them. What we learn from you, and others like you, will help us improve Google products and services and make a better online experience for everyone.

And the incentive?

Up to $25 in gift cards. Our panel management partner, Knowledge Networks, will give you a $5 Gift Card code instantly when you sign up and download the Google Screenwise browser extension.1 Then you’ll get additional $5 Gift Card codes every three months for staying with it. It’s our way of saying “Thank you.”

Is it worth noting that Google isn’t directly giving you the gift cards, but is managing this through another company? Knowledge Networks, Google’s partner in the Screenwise initiative, is an online research company who also work with the U.S Government,  Academia, Health and many other sector. In not being the party to actually distribute the gift cards to Screenwise subscribers, could Google be looking to “cover” itself against further allegations from consumer privacy watchdogs? After all, the launch of Screenwise coincides with the recent controversy surrounding updates to Google’s new privacy policy, which the EU is already looking to probe further. And now Google intends to pay people to give up their online privacy rights for just $25 a year.

If that’s not enough to make you pause and reflect, take look at the following excerpt from Screenwise’s terms and conditions:

To be eligible to join, you must be 13 or older, have a Google Account (or sign up for one), and be ready to use the Google Chrome browser.

With the age barrier to entry so low, there is gargantuan potential for young users to jump in headfirst at the promise of an Amazon gift card, without understanding the implications of what they’re signing up for. When I look back to being thirteen, not as online savvy, no form of sustainable income — would I sign up? Definitely, with the probability of abusing it further and signing up as many multiple accounts as possible!

Screenwise will almost definitely have built in safeguards to prevent this sort of exploitation, though it does beg the question – how much are we willing (desperate?) to forgo our privacy for a few dollars of online rewards?

The sign-up process for Screenwise is currently in place with registration opening soon, so we’ll keep you updated to how this extension functions once it goes live.


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