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Google Patents Detecting, Tracking, Targeting Kids

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the well-maybe dept.

Patents 115

theodp writes "A newly-issued Google patent for Rendering Advertisements With Documents Having One or More Topics Using User Topic Interest describes how to detect the presence of children by 'using evidence of sophistication determined using user actions' and tracking their behavior using the Google Toolbar and other methods to deliver targeted ads. Which is interesting, since the Google Terms of Service supposedly prohibit the use of Services by anyone 'not of legal age.' The inventor is Google Principal Scientist Krishna Bharat, who is a co-inventor of another pending Google patent for inferring searchers' ethnicity, reading level, age, sex and income (and storing it all)." Ok I'll be the first to admit that this is greek to me. Someone smart figure this out and post a comment translating patentese into english.

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Ads by Google... (3, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829316)

We already know Google is at its core an ad delivery company. At least, that's the main revenue source that powers the feel-good things like search. And what makes ads work is targeting. No use selling things that the user isn't interested in. And for that matter, no use selling things that only adults would want to kids. So, the news here is that Google's got a patent on what they've been trying to do in this space all along.

Re:Ads by Google... (1, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829782)

its refreshing to see people call google on what their CORE business is.

its to sell ads (push them) at eyeballs. all else is a con just to get the ads pushed at you.

all you folks who are 'proud' to be working at google, do you actually realize you are just part of a modern mega-Advertising Machine? and how many googlers run ad blocking software at home? (hypocrits!)

each day at google, I would assume that you come home and say 'today I helped the internet push more ads at people. cool.'

(sigh)

Holier-than-thou ignorant nonsense (4, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829972)

"do you actually realize you are just part of a modern mega-Advertising Machine?"

So fucking what? Is it better to be a part of a modern mega-Car-making Machine?.. or a modern mega-Paper-pushing Machine?

At its utmost core, advertising is doing a very important job - connecting people who would like to buy something, with the sellers who are offering something for sale. Like it or not, but advertising, in whatever form, is an integral part of a market economy. The fact that advertising is obtrusive and annoying, is not any more an inherent property of advertising, than killing innocent people is an inherent property of a sword (I was going to say "gun", but realized where I was).

If anything, you should be PRAISING Google for furthering the idea that advertising can be profitable WITHOUT being intrusive, and disruptive. As opposed to spamming you with images or sounds hawking products you're not interested in, Google politely shows you products that their software thinks you might be interested in (to the best of their ability to determine this).

Only communist-pipe-dream hippie would think something wrong of such an approach, or would think it shameful to work at such a company. Ultimately, everything is relative, and I'd rather have Google than many of its competitors.

Re:Holier-than-thou ignorant nonsense (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22830162)

"Like it or not, but advertising, in whatever form, is an integral part of a market economy"

No, it isn't. And this is precisely why the US is going down the toilet.

Re:Holier-than-thou ignorant nonsense (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22830556)

"At its utmost core, advertising is doing a very important job - connecting people who would like to buy something, with the sellers who are offering something for sale. Like it or not, but advertising, in whatever form, is an integral part of a market economy."

You are correct in the sense of conveying important information about products and services.

But modern marketing and advertising have gone WAY beyond that by CREATING demand for their products. Modern advertising is much more about convincing you that you have needs that can only be met by consumption, particularly of their product. That's the insidious part of our free commercial speak - it's gone way beyond providing information to let us make more intelligent choices (and perfect information on the part of suppliers and demanders is a requirement for a free market system to produce an optimal outcome). And then there are the outright lies.

Unfortunately, absent rigoruous censorship, there's no way to separate responsible advertising from irresponsible advertising.

No that isn't marketing, that is capitalism. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22833656)

It is a false premise that demand creates supply. A product/solution must first be defined before a demand is even suspected to exist. Demand drives sales and growth and demand is created by marketing. Marketing is just demonstrating whatever is necessary to sell a product. Traditionally it has been word of mouth, but modern day society has many more 'trusted' sources for marketing. The problem with today's marketing is that they are selling frivolous crap - pink cell phones and new software versions. That is a economic inefficiency in that it limits true innovation and creates material waste. However, it is always possible that otherwise useless product designers may eventually stumble on to something redeeming and building a bigger market to employ more designers is more chances.

Re:Holier-than-thou ignorant nonsense (2, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830882)

Is it better to be a part of a modern mega-Car-making Machine?.. or a modern mega-Paper-pushing Machine?
While advertising does help to connect sellers with buyers, it does so in a skewed way that can decrease the information available to one side (the buyer, when the seller is doing the advertising). A lot of advertising is done in a way that unfairly represents the product or service in a positive light, in some cases in a rather subtle manner (hot chicks in beer ads, for instance).

So, considering that a large portion of advertising is intended to deceive people, yes, I would say it is better to be part of a modern mega-car-making or paper-pushing machine.

Re:Holier-than-thou ignorant nonsense (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 6 years ago | (#22835998)

It could be that I'm posting this late at night, but hot chicks in beer ads doesn't seem very subtle to me.

Pardon me if this is your point...

Re:Holier-than-thou ignorant nonsense (1)

moneybuystrophies (933297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22832024)

The problem with advertising isn't just that it is annoying when when we aren't interested in the product, or even that it might be deceptive. Advertising plays a large role in creating and shaping what we desire in the first place. It also contributes to our notions of identity and our sense of the things we should own in order to think of ourselves as successful and happy. Targeted advertising can be abused. Think of Joe Camel and the targeting of children by cigarette companies using cartoon-y ads. Think of the disproportionate number of posters and billboards for alcohol in "lower-class" areas of the city. It isn't as simple, straightforward and neutral as consumer wants x, so supplier advertises x to consumer, and everyone is happy

You always have to go one step too far (1)

xant (99438) | more than 6 years ago | (#22832048)

At its utmost core, advertising is doing a very important job - connecting people who would like to buy something, with the sellers who are offering something for sale. Like it or not, but advertising, in whatever form, is an integral part of a market economy. The fact that advertising is obtrusive and annoying, is not any more an inherent property of advertising, than killing innocent people is an inherent property of a sword (I was going to say "gun", but realized where I was).
Yes...

If anything, you should be PRAISING Google for furthering the idea that advertising can be profitable WITHOUT being intrusive, and disruptive. As opposed to spamming you with images or sounds hawking products you're not interested in, Google politely shows you products that their software thinks you might be interested in (to the best of their ability to determine this).
Yes...

Only communist-pipe-dream hippie would think something wrong of such an approach, or would think it shameful to work at such a company. Ultimately, everything is relative, and I'd rather have Google than many of its competitors.
Wait, what? Can't you just make your argument without saying stupid shit like this? I was nodding along until you went all ad hominem to make this terrible point. There are very good reasons not to want Google to do this, and even a rootin' tootin' gun-toting libertarian swashbuckler should be able to see what they are. Do we constantly have to advance the collection of our private reading habits into massive online databases? Do we constantly have to push the boundaries of what people are willing to let advertisers have, until advertisers have everything? There is a danger here, and although I think Google's ad model, up to now, has been a great thing for the Internet, that doesn't mean we should dismiss as fringe the people who want to put the brakes on and examine why we're letting this happen.

Re:Holier-than-thou ignorant nonsense (1)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 6 years ago | (#22833848)

advertising [...] is an integral part of a market economy.
If free markets were to work, you would not need any advertising as the buyers would have complete knowledge (of all products) and would behave rationally.

But then you were talking about "market economy", whatever that is.

opposed to spamming you with images or sounds hawking products you're not interested in, Google politely shows you products that their software thinks you might be interested
Your starting point is wrong: spam sells so it must, by definition, be interesting. Makes all conclusions based on that invalid.

[...] communist [...]
I wonder if there is a libertarian/liberal/free trade proponent who does not yell "North Korea" in every tenth sentence while nicely forgetting Somalia.

Re:Holier-than-thou ignorant nonsense (1)

promethean_spark (696560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22834872)

It's all fun and games until the FBI starts trolling through peoples google profiles. In a way it's worse than being able to see your library records, since google knows most everything you're interested in or have even been curious about. Of course if one is worried about their privacy, it'd be easy to make a firefox plugin that does random google searches to foil the google-bot's attempts at profiling you.

Re:Ads by Google... (-1, Flamebait)

jo42 (227475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830020)

Not only are they an Evil 'modern mega-Advertising Machine', they completely suppress the little guy in business by giving away services and software using the huge revenue from this evil activity. How is anyone supposed to make a living offering products and services like online email, apps, mapping, etc. by giving them away for nothing? How would Google like it if I was to set up a company funded by huge profits from some other activity to give away advertising on people's web pages for free?

False assumption (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830042)

I hope you're being sarcastic, because if you're not, you're deeply deluded.

The statements you made seem to be operating on an assumption that people are ENTITLED to automatically receive profits for whatever work they choose to do. Yet I couldn't imagine a judgment that is more ridiculous than that. Why is it that you claim that people are "supposed to make a living offering products and services like online email, apps, mapping, etc?"

Re:False assumption (0)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830198)

you made seem to be operating on an assumption that people are ENTITLED to automatically receive profits for whatever work they choose to do.

That concept is at the very heart of IP. Protecting the profitability of some kinds of work.

Re:False assumption (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 6 years ago | (#22836006)

IP is about protecting the ability to make a profit from what you've dreamed up. That is very different from protecting the profitability of it, even if "profitability" is just "ability [to] profit" reversed. It changes the emphasis: the emphasis of IP is on ability. Not profit.

If you dream it up (and patent it, trademark it, copyright it, depending on what "it" is), you get the first crack at turning a profit from it. You are still able to fail to do so if you can't find/create a market for it.

Re:Ads by Google... (3, Interesting)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830192)

Of course, you fail to mention all the people and businesses that benefit hugely from the free/cheap Google services. The benefit to society is far greater than the detriment to other companies.

Do you think that FOSS is bad because it's free and taking sales away from commercial software?

There is a difference from free as in beer and ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22834588)

By releasing free, but non-open source software they are monopolizing the market. The only reason for setting the price to zero and still require total control is to sell related services or destroy the competition, it is not altruistic. Same as Windows bundling IE, Google is attempting to destroy the value in competing in the market. Google is doing this to keep you using their site as 'the Internet' and devaluing sites that only provide single services - ie. to compete with any software Google has you must provide the same large set of other software and services and have the same ad model. Since Google has a big chunk of current users and ad campaigns, how much can you bet on beating them? How much marketing and many new and innovative actual features must your software continually release? Would there ever be a break-even point?
Since anyone can distribute and modify FOSS, it actually prevents monopolies and lowers the market entry barriers for related software and services.

A monopoly is a monopoly, and the only monopoly that should be tolerated is a limited government. Or if this is truly a free market, you can vote with your dollars... oh wait.

Re:Ads by Google... (3, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829784)

I agree with you. They are making their products more valuable to advertisers by targeting better than anyone else, and not in an obtrusive way, but a smart way.

Another thing that I find interesting: if Google is truly a do no evil company, they can use these patents to stop others from using them for bad things. I hope that is the case.

Re:Ads by Google... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22832676)

So basically, they have invented technology to detect idiots. How in the world they are going to detect whether or not is this person of illegal age is still incomprehensible.

For example - if a 17.5 years old person (illegal age) acts as an adult, and Google decides to serve him or her ads aimed to adults, they will be breaking law.

Re:Ads by Google... (1, Insightful)

jpdzahr (1260592) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830060)

"tracking their behavior using the Google Toolbar" is just another form of SPYWARE as I've suspected all along the Google Toolbar lets Google know what your looking at, how long you visit a site, what all your interests and habits are, what's been bookmarked, in fact it's like Alexa's Toolbar and it's a form of Corporate Big Brother is watching us. Today it may seem trivial however once Google can catalog a person's Web traffic they can then profile a person and make a lot of assumptions whether valid or not. Yes I understand the collection of data is used for advertising proposes however how far will Google go with this private and personal data? I for one prefer some privacy even in my own family so why would I want strangers to have access to my data? http://www.american-contractors.org/ [american-contractors.org] As a working stiff this is as outrageous as placing s SPY CAM in someone's home or office without them knowing.....Google is out of control and stepping way over the line in the collection of peoples data through their Toolbar.

Re:Ads by Google... (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830214)

So don't install it. As with Alexa, they make it no secret that they're collecting information through the toolbar. If you don't like those terms, then why use it?

Re:Ads by Google... (2)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830424)

it's a form of Corporate Big Brother is watching us
A Big Brother that you can uninstall is no Big Brother.

Re:Ads by Google... (2, Funny)

denton420 (1235028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830838)

I dont really mind if google collects detailed information about my every action.

They are such a great company!

Re:Targets by Google... (1)

noshellswill (598066) | more than 6 years ago | (#22832588)

... and we KNOW who the California Nancy-boyz want to target. Eh ? Keep up the strong work bigG.

5p (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22829320)

5 is p to the 7

Re:5p (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22829446)

5 is p to the 7
You've got fail.

Reading a website doesn't form a contract anyway (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829328)

Very odd text from the ToS:

"2.3 You may not use the Services and may not accept the Terms if (a) you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google, or (b) you are a person barred from receiving the Services under the laws of the United States or other countries including the country in which you are resident or from which you use the Services."

Uh, visiting a website DEFINITELY doesn't constitute forming a binding contract. My (completely unprofessional) understanding is that if I can use the services without having to verify my identity, then I probably haven't formed any contract, and if I'm not forced to even be aware that there IS a "contract" then I certainly haven't agreed to anything.

Am I right? Or have we entered some parallel dimension in which simply looking at a piece of content makes you bound by a contract? I'm going to sneak into museums and install my own paintings with arduous terms of viewing.

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (2, Informative)

Cap'N Crapper (833990) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829506)

It's worded that way to say "you can't use our crap if you aren't an adult" in legalese.

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (1)

pionzypher (886253) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829628)

Parent pretty much has it. This technology would allow google to make some sort of determination whether the user in question was not an adult and thus either keep their targeted ads clean, or bump the user off the service pending some other form of age verification. I'd assume they'd simply screen the ads for children browsing; rather than piss off the huge number of adults who have child-like random click syndrome by taking away their email. Looking at it from that angle, now google can sort of claim that their targeted ads are going to the interested person who is almost surely an adult. Refined a bit, maybe they could target users with higher perceived sophistication with items they may be more interested in than those less so. I.E. hot new geek item to those who seem uber savvy.

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (2, Informative)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829516)

Well, 1) it's probably legally required to have something like that in there, and 2) it's probably in there not for something like web search, but for things that you have to sign up for (GMail, Base, etc).

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (1)

ninjapiratemonkey (968710) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829518)

Disclaimer: IANAL I think that the contract is not accepted by visiting google, but by using their search you agree to the terms and services; (ie. their services.)

From google:
2.2 You can accept the Terms by:

(A) clicking to accept or agree to the Terms, where this option is made available to you by Google in the user interface for any Service; or

(B) by actually using the Services. In this case, you understand and agree that Google will treat your use of the Services as acceptance of the Terms from that point onwards.

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829566)

Disclaimer: IANAL I think that the contract is not accepted by visiting google, but by using their search you agree to the terms and services; (ie. their services.)

No, it says I understand and agree that Google will behave that way. But it says nothing about what happens in court.

The "understand" bit is probably intended to make that happen. But as an English speaker (in other words, not a lawyer) what that says to me is that I comprehend that Google thinks we have a contract. And, I agree that Google will behave that way. But I do not agree that Google and I have a contract. Whether that interpretation would hold up in court or not I don't know, I suspect that given basic inequity and political manipulation in the legal system it would depend on whether google was the good guy or bad guy that week.

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22832750)

Generally speaking, shenanigans like this tend to go against the imposer. If one party is unaware of or has reason to not believe in the existence of a mutual contract, it doesn't exist.

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (1)

gomiam (587421) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829578)

(B) by actually using the Services. In this case, you understand and agree that Google will treat your use of the Services as acceptance of the Terms from that point onwards.

Which makes no sense whatsoever, anyway: you need to read the ToS to know that just using the service is considered by Google an acceptance of the ToS.

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (1)

MttJocy (873799) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829974)

The last one seams to me like it could be argued for quite some time in a court of law it seams to me unless they actively thrust the terms and conditions in your face before you use the "services" perhaps using a cookie to remember if the user has accepted them before (Interesting argument here over the fact the cookie only identifies the browser in some configurations not the user of the browser, especially if more than one user has the same system login) then it seams to me it would be difficult to claim someone has accepted a contract they were not made aware of. To my knowledge and understanding not a lawyer here but a fluent English speaker and contract to me suggests that the parties are at least complicit in the existence of the contract, I can't understand how someone can be in a binding contract without knowledge the contract exists.

On the other hand I could see an argument of the form that the terms of service are clearly available for the user to access at will, thus can form part of a contract on the implied concept that by using a service you agree to do so in accordance with any published terms attached to the service but then I think for that to hold up very well a formal notice on the bottom of the pages which formed part of the "service" with text to the effect of "By using these services you are agreeing to the [link:"Terms of Service"]" or similar in much the same way as adverts contain disclaimers like "Terms and conditions apply". Either of those would be informing the user that terms applied and invites the user to seek more details however I don't see any such message on the Google search home page at least making this argument seam not to hold water, although I am sure it would be argued anyway.

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829630)

It doesn't say you're forming a contract. You can't form a contract where one of the parties gets nothing in return anyway (though you could argue that because your clicks and eyeball time are of value to google, which they clearly are, that compensates google for the content and services).

It says Google isn't responsible for anything you do and you're not bound to the terms of the TOS if in your jurisdiction you're not old enough to be presumed to understand something that has rules that may not be explicit and reads like a contract.

And, like all shrink-wrap EULA's, it's useless scare-ware anyway. Nobody ever got kicked off Google for anything that didn't cost Google money.

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (4, Funny)

TheFlamingoKing (603674) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829748)

You can't form a contract where one of the parties gets nothing in return anyway

Please don't let my wife know about this.

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (0)

bubulubugoth (896803) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829776)

U are not divorced yet right?

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (3, Informative)

Mjec (666932) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829654)

Uh, visiting a website DEFINITELY doesn't constitute forming a binding contract. My (completely unprofessional) understanding is that if I can use the services without having to verify my identity, then I probably haven't formed any contract, and if I'm not forced to even be aware that there IS a "contract" then I certainly haven't agreed to anything.

Merely looking at something does not bind you, generally speaking, but you could at least in theory be bound by looking (NDA anyone?) and you almost certainly do have a contract with Google.

The whole point about a contract is that a good or service is offered and you accept that offer with "consideration" (giving up some property, doing something or refraining from doing something) being exchange for that. In this case the service is obvious and you accept a contract when you click "Search Google" or even "I'm Feeling Lucky". Your consideration is agreeing to their Terms of Service (which is mostly about refraining from doing something).

As to being aware that the contract is being made, you are presumed to know that you are entering into a relationship with your service provider (Google). This makes quite a bit of sense really. If you pay a guy to clean your car and he doesn't, he's might be guilty of a crime but that won't give you your money back. You need to sue him because you had an understanding and he didn't hold up his end of the bargain. That's a contract and it doesn't matter if you don't know his name.

It is generally considered that if your attention is brought to the existence of terms (for example by a link to "Terms of Service", or by text on a bus ticket saying "Issued subject to terms and conditions") then your use of the service indicates your acceptance of those terms. This is particularly true where you use the service repeatedly - you have ample opportunity to discover and question those terms but you keep coming back. So you must be OK with them.

NB: IANAL but I am a law student, albeit from Australia.

I have to disagree with that analysis (2, Informative)

celtic_hackr (579828) | more than 6 years ago | (#22834078)

While EULAs have stood up in court, these have all been click-through or open a sealed envelope agreements. In order for a contract to be binding there has to be a positive recognition by both parties. I find it implausible to believe that merely using Googles search or map services or any service that doesn't require registration will ever be found to be part of a binding agreement in any court in the USA. Not only that, the burden of proof that any particular individual in a household agreed to a contract is going to be on Goggle. Also, I think that if Google uses this patent, they may actually violate Child Protection laws and if I ever catch anyone tracking my child's internet activity I'll prosecute. And if the police won't do anything, I'll hire SCO's lawyers to go after them for 60% of anything they can squeeze out of them. Or some other equally sleazy and hungry litigator.

Re:I have to disagree with that analysis (1)

Mjec (666932) | more than 6 years ago | (#22835358)

While EULAs have stood up in court, these have all been click-through or open a sealed envelope agreements.

Use of a service can be an action that constitutes acceptance - see, for example, Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball [1983] 1 QB 256 [wikipedia.org] . Not US authority, but regardless.

Also, I think that if Google uses this patent, they may actually violate Child Protection laws and if I ever catch anyone tracking my child's internet activity I'll prosecute.

Well, as I understand it the technology has the capacity to guess a person's age based on their behaviour... not a breach of child protection law by any stretch of the imagination. And in any case, any contract between Google and the child would likely be void due to lack of capacity to enter into the contract.

And if the police won't do anything, I'll hire SCO's lawyers to go after them for 60% of anything they can squeeze out of them. Or some other equally sleazy and hungry litigator.

I'm glad I'm training to be a lawyer, I really am.

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (4, Interesting)

JohnSearle (923936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829672)

...and if I'm not forced to even be aware that there IS a "contract" then I certainly haven't agreed to anything.
This reminds me...

I used to work for Sprint as a crappy CSR (Customer Service Representative) back when they forced you into contracts for making any sort of changes to your account (esp. price plan changes), and I can say that customers were not always (or even commonly) aware as to their entering a binding legal agreement. There were a lot of times when a customer would call up to cancel, and you state that they'll have an ETF (Early Termination Fee) due to a previous price plan change; they were shocked and denied that they were told anything, and usually went on to claim that they are legally entitled to be warned of this.

Even though it was blatantly obvious that our staff, not to mention the under-trained overseas non-English speaking staff, were not informing the customers of this fact, we were informed that we had to tell the customer that their claims were meaningless. We had no records of our staff NOT informing them that a contractual obligation came with the account changes, so we can only assume that they were told. A verbal contract is a binding contract, and the website has the full details of the contract extensions, if they bothered to go search. So basically we were told to tell them, "too fucking bad!"

Nowhere in my CSR training did they state that we had to inform the customer of contract extensions, and the retention rate of employees was terrible... so one can only assume that very few people in the building were doing their jobs even remotely correct. (These are all obvious reasons for the exodus from Sprint by their customers)

How does all this relate to the OP? It highlights the casual disregard by big business of their legal obligations. If there is no record that you were not informed that a contract was required, then the business can only assume that you were under one.

- John

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829916)

I don't know john, i've worked in several industries at this point and i can easily state that the standard service industries like cable and telecom are leaps and bounds beyond in terms of disregard of their legal obligations. For google, their terms of service have no direct relation to their income. No activation charges, no ETFs/LTCCs, no "HEY WANT A FREE PHONE?! SIGN HERE!".

You're definitely not wrong about the standard services industries though. In canada, ALL the major telecom companies operate this way as well and may be even worse than down there.

Here we have something called the "Consumer Protection Act" (hah) which when you boil it down basically states that if a company made a billing error over 90 days past, they are not obligated to fix it as it was the customers responsibility to let us know within 90 days. Therefore, the goal of customer service is to keep people thinking that everything is as it should be until at least 90 days pass from the error. Whether its the usual "btw, you signed a 36mn term for 3 months free of the smallest voicemail service we offer", or the 90 day thing up here, its a realm of evil that doesn't even come close to what the articles are discussing.

The Google terms of service in question DO also apply to their other services that require registration, where they mention the terms of service, so I don't see how this is really an issue. I don't even see how one could apply it to using their non-registration based services as being binding since they do not even state on the search engine page that use denotes acceptance of the TOS, nor is there even a terms of service section.

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (1)

JohnSearle (923936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830238)

I think the point of my reminiscence was with this line:

My (completely unprofessional) understanding is that if I can use the services without having to verify my identity, then I probably haven't formed any contract, and if I'm not forced to even be aware that there IS a "contract" then I certainly haven't agreed to anything.
Where the parent was speaking of a contract not being binding if he is unaware. Whether you are aware of the contract, or not, seems to be beside the point with most companies. The fact is that you've acted in some way that can be construed, due to lack of evidence to the contrary, as an agreement into some contract.

Whether Google will attempt to do this, or whether Google could even profit from doing this, I have no idea.

I do, however, take note, and agree with you, that the parallels between Google and Sprint are weak... but my issue was more with the awareness of the contract.

- John

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22831298)

Ahh mistook who the OP was the way threads were nesting at first. My Bad =D

The thing i always wonder is how well such things would hold up in court in the EULAs and whether they ever had. We had in the TOS of the company i worked for that they actually werent liable for the actions or mistakes of their customer service reps. I would LOVE to see that in court.

I've never once been able to find a case of someone contesting these things though, beyond the SAF/911 class action here in canada and the current expressvu late fee suit.

I seriously wonder how many of these contracts that are presented as legit and slammed down the customers throat transfer after transfer wouldn't hold up in court. And whether it has ever been tested. Much of that could simply be a case of "well no one stood up for themselves yet"

Do you know of any sources along those lines for the US or elsewhere? I know we here in canada had a class action go through against Bell concerning the division of fees but i dont know if theres a result yet. Sadly the division of fees is one of the least tricksy and evil things they tend to do and I'm not having much google luck but that doesn't mean the cases arent out there.

Also, if you worked where you worked, you probably would get a kick out of this one [nationalpost.com] i mentioned earlier, even if its the wrong country.

wait a minute..submission time perhaps =D

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (1)

JohnSearle (923936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22831432)

Actually, I'm a Canadian as well... Sprint outsources a lot of their work to Canada, and one of their branches was in Ontario.

Unfortunately I don't know of any other court cases going on that challenge these types of situations. In fact, from the article you presented:

"There are not that many people out there prepared to buck the establishment," said Toronto lawyer Margaret Waddell, who is involved in a class action against a bank for the transaction fees on its cash advances.
A note on Sprint's TOS [nextel.com] with regard to lawsuits:

No Class Actions
TO THE EXTENT ALLOWED BY LAW, WE EACH WAIVE ANY RIGHT TO PURSUE DISPUTES ON A CLASSWIDE BASIS; THAT IS, TO EITHER JOIN A CLAIM WITH THE CLAIM OF ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY, OR ASSERT A CLAIM IN A REPRESENTATIVE CAPACITY ON BEHALF OF ANYONE ELSE IN ANY LAWSUIT, ARBITRATION OR OTHER PROCEEDING.
No Trial By Jury
TO THE EXTENT ALLOWED BY LAW, WE EACH WAIVE ANY RIGHT TO TRIAL BY JURY IN ANY LAWSUIT, ARBITRATION OR OTHER PROCEEDING.
I too am interested in whether these companies can actually get away with these things.

- John

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830802)

We had no records of our staff NOT informing them that a contractual obligation came with the account changes, so we can only assume that they were told.

Fortunately Sprint is not the final arbiter of the facts, a jury is. And fortunately, in the case a civil action, those training methods, retention rate, and , I assume, even polling employees would all be admissible (the person would have to prove it was more likely than not he was not warned.)

IANAL, so maybe it is not that easy. But I think most times the blatant disregard for the law is playing the odds that no one will a) sue and b) not settle.

Re:Reading a website doesn't form a contract anywa (1)

JohnSearle (923936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830982)

Fortunately Sprint is not the final arbiter of the facts, a jury is.
Actually there is no jury.

From Sprints Terms and Conditions Sprint's Terms and Conditions [nextel.com] :

Instead Of Suing In Court, We Each Agree To Arbitrate Disputes We each agree to finally settle all disputes (as defined and subject to any specific exceptions below) only by arbitration. In arbitration, there's no judge or jury and review is limited. However, just as a court would, the arbitrator must honor the terms and limitations in the Agreement and can award the same damages and relief, including any attorney's fees authorized by law. The arbitrator's decision and award is final and binding, with some exceptions under the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), and judgment on the award may be entered in any court with jurisdiction.
In 'accepting' the terms of conditions, which is upon the first use of the phone, you waive your right to settle disputes in front of jury. This is another thing we toss at the customers if they threaten to sue.

Go figure if this is legal...

- John

Uhoh (3, Funny)

the children (1000266) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829346)

Think of us!!!!!

What's so interesting about it? (2, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829348)

Which is interesting, since the Google Terms of Service supposedly prohibit the use of Services by anyone 'not of legal age.'

That's not remotely interesting. This is just a patent, one of many that companies like Google hold, for a variety of reasons. Now, if Google implements this capability, especially in violation of their own Terms of Service ... that would be interesting. But for now it's just a curiosity.

Re:What's so interesting about it? (1)

catwh0re (540371) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829416)

I was thinking this is more of a defensive patent for google. A policy against targetting children (perhaps by enforcing this patent) is a good way to stave off government internet regulation

Re:What's so interesting about it? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829520)

Quite possibly. Targeting kids would do nothing to enhance Google's image. Matter of fact, in our current political climate it would stupid for any company to do that.

i need a good priced lcd (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22829372)

anyone here no where i can find a good priced lcd? 15-17"

Thanks.

Re:i need a good priced lcd (4, Funny)

toddestan (632714) | more than 6 years ago | (#22831568)

anyone here no where i can find a good priced lcd? 15-17"

Thanks.


Have you tried Froogle [froogle.com] *?

*Hey, it's on topic!

Hmmm (1)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829374)

So how soon after this will we see a lawsuit from an adult that was detected as a child, and now is seeking damages for mental anguish or low self esteem or whatever.

Stupid software patents leading to stupid lawsuits. Gotta love our patent and legal system.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830288)

As long as the computer doesn't think they are a cat. [bitboost.com] I wonder if PawSense would count as prior art in using typing patterns in determining the user?

They'll find a way to justify it (1)

Brian Ribbon (986353) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829440)

Google will probably claim that their software somehow prevents children browsing to pro-paedophile or pornography websites. Then it will be "okay" to track kids and bombard them with ads, because they're just "protecting the children".

Re:They'll find a way to justify it (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829636)

And thousands/millions of Google Adwords having/paid "fans" will defend them. Perfectly legal pyramid scheme for you.

How it works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22829488)

The system must be employing an algorithm that relates phrases, searches, navigational behaviour patterns, keyword detected in email, etc., to a basic list of catagories. For example, certain phrases are used only by a generation of a particular age, if you couple that with searches that are also appropriate for that age group, then it is highly probable that you have identified a user in that particular age group. Similar approaches can be used to determine ethnicity by determining which language a search request is submitted in, how often the language is used, what site the access google from and possibly the IP address.

The algorithm can be refined to take into account every possible factor that can reveal such personal information and catagorise the IP address as such.

The weaknesses are dynamic IP addresses, shared PCs, unrelated searches, automated searches, etc. This can act to throw the algorithm off and it will not assign the appropriate catagory. As such, it would mostly target people with actual Google accounts.

Its nothing new and certainly not very novel. Basic versions are used daily in traffic analysis, this is just an extension that makes use of the extra available data.

Brilliant ! No evil here (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22829492)

I am with Bjarne on this one.
Bjarne Stroustrup, creator of the C++ programming language, claims that C++ is experiencing a revival and
that there is a backlash against newer programming languages such as Java and C#. "C++ is bigger than ever.
There are more than three million C++ programmers. Everywhere I look there has been an uprising
- more and more projects are using C++. A lot of teaching was going to Java, but more are teaching C++ again.
There has been a backlash.", said Stroustrup.

You missed this by a decade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22829658)

A decade ago this would have been funny. Now, you are just like Dick Cheney; simply another troll.

Extremely misleading headline. (3, Informative)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829494)

Perhaps I'm wrong, but after scanning this, it seems ridiculous and inflammatory that this is posted as "GOOGLE IS TRACKING OUR KIDS!!!". Doing a couple searches, I didn't see anything on "age", and the only thing that "child" brought up was:

Further, a given topic might be divided based on degrees of expertise or sophistication. For example, a user interested in the topic "volcano" could be interested in a basic introduction to volcanoes (a novice), a technical understanding of volcanoes (an expert), or be interested in a tourism information regarding volcanoes (some sophistication). Different sets of one or more ads can be associated with the different levels of user expertise in a give topic. Using evidence of sophistication determined using user actions for example, ads targeted for novices, average sophistication, or experts (e.g., children, tourists, scientists) may be served and rendered.
Oh yeah, very evil.

Re:Extremely misleading headline. (1)

theodp (442580) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829606)

From the pending patent:

[0068] The UPI attributes 420 may include information concerning user background and interests such as, for example, geographic information, age or age group, topics of interest, reading level, income and other demographics suited for targeting advertisements.

Re:Extremely misleading headline. (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829640)

Exactly - I can walk down the street and identify children as a distinct group from adults, and tailor my interactions (or lack thereof) with them based on that assessment. Google thinks they have come up with a way to infer that same information and tailor their responses accordingly. How Evil .

Re:Extremely misleading headline. (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 6 years ago | (#22831032)

so now, everyone who's a 'novice' is a child now? does that mean if i google basic wiki articles i'll be getting hasbro ads?

there are a lot of things i have an above average understanding of, but there is no shortage of subjects in which I'm still at a novice level of understanding. google, and wikipedia are the first tools i turn to to find information when I'm lacking... does that mean they'll be skewing ads to think I'm a child?

Prior Art! (1)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829508)

Full Metal Jacket:

"easy, ya just don't lead 'em as much!"

this seems like an easy thing to do: (2, Insightful)

romanval (556418) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829524)

#1 Find the average tagged keyword of a searched resulted and clicked-thru website

#2 gather enough of these searches and you'll have a composite of the searcher's general interests

#3 cross references their general interest with the average gender, socieconomic, racial, and/or

#4.. Patent!!!

#5... Profit???

So if you want to screw up that system, a person should just search and click thru something completely random, like businessman searching pokeman websites, a musician searching physics research, or a slashdotter searching for ED pills :)

Okay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22829574)

Ok I'll be the first to admit that this is greek to me

They're essentially saying that Google is trying to figure out by user actions if you're a kid or not, and then switch to ads that target kids specifically.

Google Patents Detecting,Tracking,Targeting Kids?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22829632)

Paedophiles!

The inverse could be used by law enforcement (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829676)

I could imagine the inverse results of this system being used to find grown-ups preying on kids.
Or even build in to certain sites to prevent this from happening.

Google is "big brother" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22829690)

http://www.google-watch.org/ [google-watch.org]

Check out this site to find out just how much google aims to know about you and how much informations they have on your in their permanent records.

An easy way to avoid this btw is by using the scroogle scraper to search google. You can also disable click tracking if you use firefox by getting a plug in called customizegoogle. Google it :)

Translations (0, Flamebait)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829706)

Ok I'll be the first to admit that this is greek to me. Someone smart figure this out and post a comment translating patentese into english.

Well, if it was a patent from Microsoft, it would mean the instant someone performed a search, if they were a child they would be put in forced contact with a sex offender. Adults just get kicked in the genitals.

But since it's Google, I assume it means that if someone performs a search and they were a child, colorful balloons fall from the ceiling and magical unicorns whisk them instantly away to Disneyland.

Re:Translations (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829982)

Ummm, I think you made a few mistakes. First, and most blatantly, those balloons need to be non-latex because some people have allergies. Second, Disneyland is evil because they make a profit based on their long-protected Mouse copyrights, so perhaps it would be better for the magical unicorns to whisk them instantly away to the Summer of Code, where they will be given a high-end laptop running Linux-du-jour, and a 3 month stipend to write more high quality code to give back to the community.

Prior art : Paedophilles (3, Funny)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829730)

They've been detecting, tracking and targeting kids for years.


Bad taste? Nah, you guys love it as much as you love dead baby jokes.

Damn kids... (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829734)

GET OFF MY HOMEPAGE!!!

Detecting, Tracking, Targeting Kids.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22829758)

I thought Michael Jackson already had a patent on this?

amazing (1)

Deanalator (806515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829794)

Having spent many of my younger years chasing down children while working at an after school program, I can honestly say that if google has figured out an algorithm for detecting, tracking, and targeting kids they deserve a freaking fields medal.

Future Implications (1)

prajjwal (965508) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829804)

One potentially dangerous future implication: 1. Not only kids, but people of different psychological types (i.e. likes, weaknesses classified) -- doesn't Facebook already do this? 2. If a potentially malicious entity has access, there you go: viruses/trojans which target not only vulnerabilities in computers, but those in people too... not only viruses, but more sophisticated attacks by intelligent entities as well. Oh well.. its always the same.. everything can be put to good AND bad use...

Once more, in English (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829840)

Ok I'll be the first to admit that this is greek to me. Someone smart figure this out and post a comment translating patentese into english.

Okay. "Google is working on ways to read your mind."

It's part of their plan for world domination, but in an evil-free way.

Re:Once more, in English (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22831382)

"What are we going to do today, Brin?

"Same thing we always do, Larry ... try and take over the world!"

Wait, what? (1)

mrchapp (823433) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829952)

Wait, Google Patents [google.com] is detecting, tracking, and targeting kids? I knew there was something fundamentally wrong with the USPTO -- it's those damn kids calling the shots in there!

not just children (4, Informative)

penguinbroker (1000903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830018)

ftfp: "Different sets of one or more ads can be associated with the different levels of user expertise in a give topic. Using evidence of sophistication determined using user actions for example, ads targeted for novices, average sophistication, or experts (e.g., children, tourists, scientists) may be served and rendered."

This is simply an extension of what google already does at the page level. Instead of settling for targeting ads based on the contents of the page, google would like to tailor ads based on what the user is specifically looking at on a page. The above quote denotes the fact that they are likely to find correlations among certain demographic and age groups.

"In this example, one or more ads associated with topic 1 might originally be rendered in association with the document 1410. If a user were to follow the link 1414a, interest scores of one or more ads associated with topic 2 could be increased. In this case, upon returning back to document A 1410 from document B 1420, one or more ads associated with topic 2 might now be rendered in association with the document 1410."

The previous quote from the patent shows how google would use your recent browser history along with whatever tags they associate with a page to serve 'relevant' ads. This is similar to what I expect google to do with the doubleclick data they will be receiving shortly.

On a more ominous note, the following claim is a bit unsettling and reminds me of http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/03/21/1511240 [slashdot.org] . Who's letting all these guys control cameras in our houses?

"9. The computer-implemented method of claim 1 wherein the actions of the user monitored are selected from a group of user actions consisting of (a) cursor positioning, (b) cursor dwell time, (c) document item selection, (d) user eye direction, (e) user facial expressions, (f) user expressions, and (g) express user topic interest input. "

Ummm, somebody at homeland security just wet their lips....

False Positives (3, Interesting)

Hemogoblin (982564) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830032)

I predict lots of false positives on FBI Agents.

If its greek to you... (3, Insightful)

melete (640855) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830496)

...then you probably shouldn't be making up ridiculously misleading headlines. If you A) actually read the patent application and B) understand ANYTHING about the terminology used, you'd realize that there's nothing about "tracking and targeting children" in it. It's about Google extending their applications of graph theory to determine demographic data about their viewers. This has been, after all, their core competency ever since they were founded.

Re:If its greek to you... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22831834)

He didn't write the headline and admitted he didn't understand the patent, but thought it might be of interest to /. readers. Would you rather he simply didn't post the article? Or are you deludedly hoping that /. gathers an array of technical advisors who will vet any submissions for which the editors aren't completely comfortable in understanding the material?

I think it's quite likely this was the only submission on this patent, and I think it was a good move to post it. What's more, because the patent does involve age it inherently targets children as a group - just as it targets senior citizens as a group. It's a misleading headline but not entirely inaccurate.

sFUCKB A GOAT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22830656)

metadiscussions ballots. You coul3 She had no fear of challenges that and what supplies

Patents are for Powerpoint (1)

thebian (1218280) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830780)

As I skimmed the patent material, I began to wonder whether

  • Web advertising isn't living up the promises that have been made
  • Google needs bullet items for its patents slide for the next Wall St. Powerpoint presentation
  • They can really patent of system of tracking of words (ngrams, where n=1) when there've been thousands of papers in NLP and IR discussing every conceivable mechanism for handling ngrams for 10 years or 20 years?

Frankly I'm not impressed with the quality of any company's system to divine what I'm interested in -- not Netflix, not Amazon and not even Google. Isn't the purpose of a search engine to find what I ask for, and not do magic tricks about what I'm thinking?

Analysis of the two patents (3, Interesting)

Alsee (515537) | more than 6 years ago | (#22831000)

Someone smart figure this out and post a comment translating patentese into english.

I'm no patent lawyer, but I think I've learned enough to do a reasonable job. There are two patents linked, I'll do the quick easy one first.

Patent 1:
A method for determining user profile information for a user, the method comprising: a) determining initial user profile information for the user; b) inferring user profile information for the user; and c) determining the user profile information for the user using both the initial user profile information and the inferred user profile information.

WTF! Software patents are bad, business method patents are bad, but this is just INSANE!

(a) you have an existing profile for someone.
(b) You "infer" profile information for someone.
(c) You use the old info plus the new info to UPDATE the profile.

We want a patent on updating a profile.
Well, ok, we only want the patent when you "infer" information and update a profile.
We want a patent on the very idea of "inferring" information to update a profile.

Yes, this patent really is worse than the "method of swinging sideways on a swing" patent.

I want to scream. Can I scream on the internet? Can I strangle someone? Please?

I'm sure some people are looking at the patent and reading the abstract - the abstract doesn't matter. The description doesn't matter either. And I'm sure people are looking at the additional claim numbers, well in this case they don't matter either. The way patents work each claim number is like a separate patent. Claims 1 through 64 are like 64 separate patents all filed on one form. If claim 1 is a patent on the wheel and a claim 2 patent on a super-duper laser powered 4 dimensional wheel, claim 2 generally doesn't matter because ANY wheel already violates claim 1.

The way you read a patent is you read claim 1, and then you also check up on any claim number that does *not* mention an earlier claim number. A claim that mentions an earlier claim number is a dependent claim already covered by the lower number claim, and can be ignored. A claim that does not mention an earlier claim is like a new independent patent and you have to check that it might cover something claim 1 didn't cover.

Patent 2:
You have to do everything below to violate the patent.

A computer-implemented method

Software.

Software is not patentable, but this is the magic patentese phrase for software running on a computer. So in patentese this is patentable.

for generating a document with optimizable topic-relevant ads,

Software that inserts targeted ads.

the method comprising: a) for each of a plurality of document regions of the document, determining a topic,

Patentese has an issue with non-specific numbers. It has fancy language for "one or more". This text saying a document might be treated as a "one or more" regions. For example you might consider each story on the Slashdot front page as a separate region.

So, make a list of One Or More topics in One Or More sections.

wherein the plurality of document regions are intrinsic to the document, and thereby independent of how the document is being viewed and of a user viewing the document;

That is essentially patenese for "webpage".

b) using at least the determined topics, associating, with each of the plurality of document regions, a different set of one or more topic-relevant ads;

Software that picks One Or More targeted ads relevant to One Or More parts of the page.

c) determining, from among the plurality of topics, a topic interest of a user;

The page talks about cars and shoes, pick one.

d) adjusting the scores of the ads using at least the determined topic interest of the user;

Rank all of the selected matching ads. You have to do so at least in part based on the "topic of interest", but you can rank base on other stuff too. We want the patent no matter how you do the ranking, so long as it involves the "topic of interest".

We can summarize everything up to this point as "standard ad serving software".
Now the patent says something potentially new:

and e) serving, for rendering to the user, an updated set of ads in association with the document

You're already viewing a page with ads, now we are going to send NEW ads down the pipe to replace them.

using at least the adjusted scores, wherein each of the ads of each of the sets of one or more topic relevant ads includes a score, wherein an initial set of ads to be rendered in association with the document is determined using at least the scores of the ads,

Blah blah blah, we sent the old ads based on the old ranking now we send new ads based on new ranking.

wherein the topic interest of the user is determined using at least monitored actions of the user with respect to the document, wherein an amount by which scores of ads are adjusted is determined using, at least, a confidence level that an observed monitored action of the user indicates a user topic interest,

We watch how you move or click the mouse or anything else you do while looking at the webpage, and use that to (re)pick which topic on the page you are interested in, and we re-rank the ads.

But here it gets bizarre:

wherein an amount by which scores of ads are adjusted is greater for a first type of monitored user actions with respect to the document than a second type of monitored user actions with respect to the document, and wherein the second type of monitored user actions includes hovering a pointer cursor over a particular region, centering a particular region on a display, and highlighting at least a portion of a particular region.

We want a patent on targeted web ads, where you update the replace the ads in an already served page, where you watch the user for at least two things, where the first and more important thing you watch for could be ANYTHING, we want a patent where the SECOND and less important thing is "hovering a pointer cursor over a particular region, centering a particular region on a display, and highlighting at least a portion of a particular region".

It strikes me as odd to ask for a patent specifically on this treated as a second less scoring thing, secondary and lesser to any general other thing. Maybe they already submitted some other patent that specified this as a most important factor in ranking ads, and this patent is just to close that "loophole"?

There are 31 other claims in the patent and but they all look equivalant or narrower, so we can ignore them here.

In any case it seems you would almost have to TRY to violate this patent. If you did accidentally violate it you could very trivially work around it.

-

Re:Analysis of the two patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22834166)

I'm sure some people are looking at the patent and reading the abstract - the abstract doesn't matter. The description doesn't matter either. And I'm sure people are looking at the additional claim numbers, well in this case they don't matter either. The way patents work each claim number is like a separate patent. Claims 1 through 64 are like 64 separate patents all filed on one form. If claim 1 is a patent on the wheel and a claim 2 patent on a super-duper laser powered 4 dimensional wheel, claim 2 generally doesn't matter because ANY wheel already violates claim 1.

No - you do not read claims that way. Because it is too complicated to describe the entire invention being claimed (usually) in a single claim, you build it up step by step. The first claim in a chain is an independent claim. Each succeeding dependent claim builds on the previous one, narrowing the scope of what is being claimed until you get to what you want.

Thus, to patent the super-duper laser powered 4 dimensional wheel, you might say: What is claimed is

  1. A wheel.
  2. The claim of method 1, wherein the wheel is a super-duper wheel.
  3. The claim of method 2, wherein the wheel is a laser-powered wheel.
  4. The claim of method 3, wherein the wheel is a wheel in 4 dimensions.
And, if you wanted to claim any super-duper wheel in 5 dimensions (but not necessarily laser powered, you'd add 5. The claim of method 2, wherein the wheel is a wheel in 5 dimensions.

Re:Analysis of the two patents (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 6 years ago | (#22834896)

No - you do not read claims that way.

Anonymous Coward is mistaken. Claim number one does indeed stands as a full patent. Each additional claim stands as an additional full patent.

Wikipedia discusses this. [wikipedia.org]

One of the primary reasons for narrower dependent claims is as a fall back position. If the super broad claim number one is ever struck down in court, then you have narrower claim number two which may still be upheld.

-

They are tracking a lot more than this (1)

pcause (209643) | more than 6 years ago | (#22831016)

This patent is just a sample of the tracking and targeting that Google is doing. They talk about "anonymous" tracking, but give the content and patterns of access they can do a good job figuring out who you are and what you interests are. They are looking at your web surfing, email, chat, bookmarks, etc. Google toolbar and desktop are there so they can spy on you when you are browsing anywhere.

If the government was spying on you like this there would be a revolution. Google is completely unaccountable and as a corporation whose primary and sole motive is profit, no more trustworthy than Enron. When Google says "Do no evil" don't believe them. Ask, "Who defines what evil is?" All they care about is not being exposed for what they are and are doing because it makes the spyware guys look restrained.

Missle Defense (1)

fireheadca (853580) | more than 6 years ago | (#22831088)

Did anyone else read the headline like Google is wireless tracking kids and targeting them with a big bullseye?

-0--
We are all not as smart as all of us.

OMG Google's a bunch of perverts! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22831132)

Tracking kids! OMG! Police! Arrest that corporation!

Google serves up kiddie pr0n [google.com] !

--
Pretend to laugh, it's supposed to be funny. This bait may be lame but it's not for flames.

In laymans terms... (1)

RazorRaiser (895600) | more than 6 years ago | (#22831202)

...this could be the end of l33tspeak :'(

Do No Evil????? (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#22831454)

Software patents are evil as they are dishonest in regards to the genuine nature of software.

See: Abstraction physics [abstractionphysics.net] for an expose of the genuine nature of software.

Patenteze, Cmdr, for what? (1)

udippel (562132) | more than 6 years ago | (#22833596)

Someone smart figure this out and post a comment translating patentese into english

FYI to what you posted, the "Rendering advertisements with documents having one or more topics using user topic interest" contradicts the content of the post: US-7,346,606 is not on children. The word 'children' shows up a single time, at an irrelevant example within parentheses towards the end. I wished the editors were less sloppy. theodp might have made a mistake; we all can err; but then the editor ought to have noticed the mistake.
This actually renders the whole post wrong, you might want to correct that: Said patent is on how to push ads according to the user's type of actions in the various areas of the (screen) regions. Nothing else. Nothing on gender, ethnicity, income, etc. [If you wanted, I might be able to provide a more comprehensible summary.]

The post of theodp ends with a rather unmotivated (within this context) and unrelated 'by the way, the inventor had earlier filed an application on identifying ethnicity, reading level, age, sex and income'.

The mislead crowd has been discussing the latter, unrelated, part until now.

So far nothing to be seen here, factually wrong post, wrong references, sloppy editing. No news. Nothing to be seen, move along.

I have to say... (1)

sliverstorm (942764) | more than 6 years ago | (#22834012)

Initially I object to the thought of profiling in general, but if it's truly done properly and accurately, hypothetically the search results we get will be more relevant to what we want and we might actually find useful ads, which as far as I'm concerned wouldn't be bad.

Detecting sophistication (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22834154)

The summary makes it sound as if Google is detecting kids because they perform more sophisticated searches.

Detecting People Who Click On Ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22834766)

What is claimed is that when someone clicks on an ad, it is remembered. These users are then sent a higher number of ads then non-ad-clickers.

Prior Art:
see:

Detecting People Who Use Web Browsers
Detecting Old People With Money
Detecting Who Farted
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