Google knows the questions that people wouldn’t dare ask aloud, and it silently offers reams of answers. But it is a mistake to think of a search engine as an oracle for anonymous queries. It isn’t. Not even close.

In some cases, the most intimate questions a person is asking—about health worries, relationship woes, financial hardship—are the ones that set off a chain reaction that can have troubling consequences both online and offline.

All this is because being online increasingly means being put into categories based on a socioeconomic portrait of you that’s built over time by advertisers and search engines collecting your data—a portrait that data brokers buy and sell, but that you cannot control or even see. (Not if you’re in the United States, anyway.)

Continue reading:  People’s Deepest, Darkest Google Searches Are Being Used Against Them

Commentary by The Secular Jurist:  The article goes into detail about how the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is now scrutinizing the role of lead generators (i.e. online data brokerage companies) within the context of consumer protection.