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Google Patents Detecting, Tracking, Targeting Kids 115

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-maybe dept.
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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Google Patents Detecting, Tracking, Targeting Kids

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  • by JohnSearle (923936) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @12:03PM (#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:Ads by Google... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @12:20PM (#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)
  • Re:Ads by Google... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zappepcs (820751) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @12:20PM (#22829784) Journal
    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.
  • False Positives (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hemogoblin (982564) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @12:53PM (#22830032)
    I predict lots of false positives on FBI Agents.
  • Re:Ads by Google... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DrEldarion (114072) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @01:11PM (#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?
  • by Alsee (515537) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @03:05PM (#22831000) Homepage
    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. W

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