¿Cómo es el consumidor del S.XXI? Exigente y responsable

La tecnología nos ha dado un acceso a la información casi ilimitado hasta el punto de que en el mundo científico se habla ya de la “era de la información”.


Vivimos en un mundo interconectado, sin fronteras. Sabemos qué ocurre en todos continentes lo que propicia que nos sintamos responsables.

La tecnología nos permite involucrarnos en causas sociales, porque sabemos que una sola persona puede tener un impacto mundial, podemos cambiar hoy lo que está pasando. El ejemplo de las redes sociales ha sido utilizado numerosas veces. También existen otros: PC, móviles, acceso a internet.

Este nuevo entorno ha propiciado un cambio en la forma de comprar un producto que muchas empresas están incorporando en sus decisiones empresariales. Entre otros, y con datos de 2015 en España, valoramos el respeto al medio ambiente (1) por encima de la calidad, la atención al cliente o los resultados económicos a la hora de considera a una compañía “una buena empresa”.

shop ethical

    “Un 45% de los consumidores ha dejado de comprar a una marca por     sus malas prácticas respecto a la sociedad y el medio ambiente”

“Un 38% estaría dispuesto a pagar un 9% más por un producto            más responsable”

“Para uno de cada 2 españoles un producto sostenible genera valor añadido para las empresas”

El medioambiente está de moda. Bienvenido “technological empowerment” 😉

1 Informe Forética 2015


Google does not specify how it manages privacy information about its users.

Google changed deeply its privacy policy in March 2012 (although last change is from June 2013 [i]), consolidating its 60 services into a unique code of practices. Google`s aim was to simplify its privacy rules and enhance user´s satisfaction but, actually, Google created a data zone across the entire firm so that anything you provide to one service is available to all other products and services. This move broadens the commercial value of the company boosting its growth and customer reach[ii]. But this “new”[iii] policy still omits crucial details of “how” Google handles the information it has about you and acts more like a declaration.

Even after a long battle with the European Commission and other regulators[iv] over how long the company could retain personal information, the new policy is silent on the issue, as it is on almost all other privacy aspects. Let ´s explain more in detail what is about.

First, Google privacy policy, available online[v], explains some of the information Google collects and manages[vi]. It includes personal information individuals provided to sign up for certain services and the information Google gets from the use of its services[vii] (how and when you use the services, which devices you use, your location, etc.) giving the individual the opportunity through the Google dashboard[viii] to check what it has stored. Still, this is worthless to anyone wanting to know exactly what Google does with personal data and therefore how it handles with privacy. For instance, Google does not ask for “explicit consent” when combining users’ data together. European regulators have expressed their concern to this regard: “Combining personal data on such a large scale creates high risks to the privacy of users”[ix]. It is not only about advertising but security and sharing with third parties. The collection and centralization of data makes it far easier to know who the user is, and therefore likely to be attacked and leaked onto the internet. Only if Google differentiates the rules between advertising and security the latter could be better guaranted.

Second, Google does not provide a clear centralized opt-out solution neither does it states how long it stores user data for[x]. Even if users can opt out of Google’s privacy policy, it’s difficult to do. First, you need to delete your search history from Google although it does not mean that the company stops collecting the data that you create. Then, Google will take the information and store it away promising not to use it. After 18 months, the data is “anonymized” which means that Google takes your name off and strip some bits off the IP address but the extent to which the data is anonymized is unclear. Besides, it is possible to de-anonymize data fairly easily if you have a large enough corpus and Google obviously does.

Third, if a company has information about an individual coming from search engines, Google is not responsible of giving the right to see what data a company holds or asking for its correction or removal. (this responsibility lays with the creator of the content)[xi].

Fourthly, Google has indeed been collecting personal and private information without consent: through Street View[xii], it collected private details of people’s wifi networks by its camera cars, it tracks the movements of people using its Android smartphones[xiii] and, as probed in the wikileaks case, a Google-user may never even be told the information about him that have been delivered[xiv].

Is the man of the street aware of all of these? As the European Commission has stated[xv], if individuals agree on giving their data in full knowledge; understanding clearly privacy policies; and are informed about “who is using their data, in which way, and for what purposes, so they can make an informed choice” Google can manage privacy data and will be respecting the law in doing so.

Google has announced a new policy change[xvi] regarding user information effective on November 11th 2013, giving the company the right to use profile names, photos and comments alongside advertisements by clients who use its online advertising network of over 2 million websites.

Above all, the stem of the matter comes from the fact that Google`s huge reach across search, mobile, video, social networking and advertising makes its vast cache of information almost impossible for smaller or more focused rivals to compete against[xvii]. Opting out of Google is rather impossible.

[i] Google updates in its privacy policy http://www.google.com/policies/privacy/archive/, last retrieved 24th October 2013.

[ii] “Google is watching you” Norman Davis, The Guardian, March, 1st 2012

[iii] Google has updated its privacy policy 12 times since its creation in 1999

[iv] “EU regulators find legal problems in Google privacy policy” Zack Whittaker for Between the Lines October 15, 2012

[v]http://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/privacy/ updated June 24, 2013. Last retrieved 24th October, 2013
[vi] How to opt out of Google´s New Privacy Policy. PCMAG.COM. February 24, 2012

[vii] Google´s policies and principles http://www.google.com/policies/privacy/ Last retrieved 24th October, 2013

[ix] “EU regulators find legal problems in Google privacy policy” Zack Whittaker for Between the Lines October 15, 2012

[x] “How to Opt Out of Google’s New Privacy Policy” Jill DuffyPCMAG.COM. February 24, 2012

[xi] Google terms of services  http://www.google.com/intl/en-GB/policies/terms/, last retrieved, 24th October 2013.

[xii] Taken to the supreme court in Germany for invasion of privacy in 2011

[xiii] “Google privacy policy: a stranglehold most users are happy to be held in” James Ball The Guardian, 1 March 2012

[xiv] Even if Google does reveal information requested and given by different governments, if a subpoena is sealed, a user may never even be told their details have been handed over  “Google Reveals Government Demands For Cloud Data” Robert Westervelt, CRN News, March 6th, 2013

[xv] “EU regulators find legal problems in Google privacy policy” Zack Whittaker for Between the Lines October 15, 2012

[xvi] “Bouquets & brickbats for Google’s new privacy policy”. Indu Nandakumar & J Srikant, ET Bureau October  18, 2013

[xvii] “Google privacy policy: a stranglehold most users are happy to be held in” James Ball The Guardian, 1 March 2012

Understanding Google Search Engine

The search results come from Indexed pages [i] and Knowledge graph pages[ii].

Then, Google analyses the words typed into the search bar, both  literally and semanticly.

The literal search consists in the engine looking for the words or phrases exactly as they are entered.

The semantic search system considers context of search, location, intent, variation of words, synonyms, generalized and specialized queries, concept matching and natural language queries to provide relevant search results[iii]. In order to understand what your search means, the term is also broken down looking at your Google+ account (using your location and account history), language use (both syntatic and semantic) and synonyms.

Finally, five other factors determine the results: site structure relations, page structure relations, external link relevance, internal link relevance, and a common set of schemas for structured data markup on web pages[iv] (schema.org).

The right hand side of the browser shows the result coming from the knowledge graph.

The left hand side is a combination of literal search results in accordance to their PageRank and relevance and traces of semantics through the use of synonyms in the rich snippets of the results. In February 2012, 5% of the searches came from semantic.


[i] A collection of web pages stored to respond to search queries

[ii] A separate database with the ability to differentiate between words and phrases with different meanings and finding out their relation ship to each other

[iii] Wikipedia Semantic search, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_search, last retrieved October, 19th

[iv] Wikipedia on Schema.org http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schema.org. last retrieved October, 19th