Two articles in yesterday’s Financial Times struck my fancy:

Retailer buys ‘social’ search engine

Google to match online adverts with web users’ viewing habits

What Google and Sears–yes, Sears, the seller of all things American–are heading towards behavioral search engines that look at a person’s online activity and social networking profiles to determine their interests and thereby producing more customized search engine results. And, consequently, more tailored ads to serve up items that the user may be more likely to buy.

Now what is interesting to me is that “privacy” groups (isn’t that an oxymoron?) are outraged that these ISPs are going to be tracking online activity.


First of all, nothing, and I mean absolutely NOTHING, is free. You think Google is free? You think they just let you use their search engine out of the goodness of their heart? That they are the benevolent oracle of all known human intelligence? Umm, no.

Your privacy is the price you pay for using Google. When you decided to use Google, or any other search engine for that matter, you clicked a little box, ignoring that plain-text box that contained 20 scrolls worth of legalese, because you were in a hurry to find out last night’s football scores, tonight’s TV schedule or the cheapest deal for those dozen roses that you had to send to your mother/girlfriend/wife.

So if you don’t want your privacy invaded and your interests assessed, don’t use search engines. Or Amazon. Or Netflix. Or Blockbuster. Or Victoria’s Secret.

Let’s see how long that boycott lasts.