For years, Google has sworn it will not engage in behavioral advertising, the practice of tracking what its users search for in order to target ads that correspond with the history of users' interest. That means that if you have a tendency to search for Paris Hilton gossip, for example, the company promises not to use that information in order to bombard you with sex tape ads when you're looking for used cars. (Although if you're doing the Paris Hilton thing, you're probably looking for sex tapes too. Be honest with yourself for once.) Google has long claimed behavioral advertising just doesn't work very well, but it's also got to be sensitive to privacy advocates who complain that scanning and storing the history of what people do on the web is creepy and predatory.
But now it looks like Google may let other companies do the behavioral advertising for them! Google recently announced that it will let a select group of third party advertisers -- that's tech speak for companies that market products online on behalf of product manufacturers -- advertise on its search page. And a new story in PC Magazine asserts that many of those companies engage in precisely the sort of behavioral advertising that Google claims to disavow. Jeffrey Chester, a privacy advocate who has been bird-dogging Google's privacy rules for years, told PC Mag, "Google has now sanctioned behavioral targeting on its network, and users have no idea what the implications are."