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August 2018, Vol. 20, No. 4

Why third-party access to data may come at a price

Years ago, a former colleague fumed on a regular basis that Google was reading his email. He grew increasingly outraged as targeted ads continually popped up in his Gmail account. The publishing types he vented to during lunch knew there was truth to his concerns about Google's increasing access to data. But many of us also thought he was a bit paranoid. His son had a different last name and was a popular anchor on The Weather Channel. When I channel-surfed during a major storm, he was always there getting pelted by rain, slammed by surf or knee deep in flood waters as he talked to storm-struck locals. Ten years later, it turns out my former co-worker got that early forecast right. The text in free email accounts supported Google and its partners' rise to the top of the advertising world, bolstered by search and personalized ad campaigns. And it didn't stop there: To attract third-party developers, Google and other platform companies dangled not only APIs but access to data gathered from unwitting customers. Most organizations ...

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