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“An exciting and very important new research study conducted for Google by GfK,” it said. It sounded harmless. The proposition? My involvement in “Screenwise” would help Google understand how I “use different types of media” and improve its “products and services.” In return, I’d get some money. How much wasn’t exactly clear up front due to the different steps and conditions. So, sucker for free money, I read on.
I would also get a “free top-of-the-line wireless Cisco router,” it said. Ha, I already have one of those, but this router would be special. It would collect all data flowing through it and send it to Google and GfK. A spy router!
Google would in effect sit inside the router and know everything – where you bank, the brokers you use, how often you visit their sites, what trading software you use, your internet phone calls, Skype conversations, instant messages, email, what health issues you might be dealing with, the porn sites you or your kids visit, where you’d like go to dinner. Everything.
Google would also install a special spy app on the smartphones of participating household members. The app would collect anything that’s done with the phone and send that data to Google. It’s an essential part of the deal.
To get me going with this wonderful program, the letter sent me to the Screenwise website. Once there, I did the math. In addition to the $5 already pocketed, Google offered me $20 “immediately” if I register and answer a stream of intrusive questions, and $200 for having the spy router installed and at least one computer hooked up within two weeks of receiving the router. So $225 to get set up. Google also offered me $30 per month for the first computer and $5 per month for each additional participating Wi-Fi-enabled electronic device, including things like Blue-ray players. So in a household with 7 participating devices, $60 per month. In total, for the first month, $255. If the project lasts a whole year, $945.
time out on every response