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Google decides what is most important for children

Por Kids and teens online

In our lectures and workshops about the Internet, parents still ask if their Gmail, Hotmail or Live e-mail accounts are truly private. Recently, a very surprised mother told us: “For a couple of days now, I have been exchanging emails with a friend telling her about my plans to visit nature parks in Norway this summer. In the right column of my email account there are appearing advertisements of guidebooks of Norway, hotels, cruises, etc… but, aren’t our e-mail accounts supposed to be private?” Not only I recommended her to read the terms and conditions of use of the entity hosting her free e-mail account, but I also briefly explained to her how the so-called “cookies” work.

It’s important to remember that on December 2013, the Spanish Data Protection Agency fined Google (owner of Gmail) for “seriously violating” citizens’ rights.  The Spanish Agency has given Google three fines of €300,000 each. They considered Google keeps user’s data “during periods of time that are undefined and unjustified” and it doesn’t clearly inform users about the fact that this information can be used “for multiple purposes”. In addition, Google “obstructs—and in some cases blocks—the rights to access, rectification, cancellation and opposition”.

A cookie or “web cookie” is a small piece of text from web pages and websites that you visit and which your browser collects and stores. On one hand, some of these cookies may be useful for users, because they allow the browser to “remember” things you looked for, such as the language used, etc.  On the other hand, cookies work for the benefit of other people, whose objective is to get the most exhaustive profile of you and of your tastes in order to show you advertisements you might be interested in. Many of the cookies that are most certainly installed on your device are able to identify you, they know when you click “Like” in a social media, the articles you’ve read and the products you’ve bought online.

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