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Oh no: Google wants to put ads on our thermostats, refrigerators and other appliances

May 21st, 2014 at 11:15 PM
Google Ads Nest Thermostats

We’ve said in the past that we’re willing to put up with some of Google’s shadier antics mostly because its services are so useful. However, a new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows that Google has a new plan that could put our tolerance to the ultimate test.

Per The Wall Street Journal, Google revealed in a letter to the SEC sent late last year that it has plans to serve users advertisements on “refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities.”

This puts Google’s acquisition of Nest into a whole different context — while Nest has pledged that Google won’t be allowed to snoop on you through your thermostat, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be able to serve you ads through your thermostat that derive from all the other data it collects on you. That said, Nest has also pledged that any privacy changes made to its thermostats will be strictly opt-in, so if and when ads do come to Nest, you’ll have to directly agree to let them be displayed on your thermostat.

Google also tells the Journal that the proposal for ads everywhere does not at all reflect any sort of product roadmap and is still firmly in the experimental phase.

Even so, Google’s overall vision of “serving” us ads everywhere in our house doesn’t seem all that appealing. For example, we’re not sure we want our Android-powered smart fridge to constantly remind us that there’s a great deal on eggs at our local supermarket and we don’t want our car dashboards showing us annoying ads that tell us how much BP really does love the environment every time we flip on the ignition. There’s obviously no guarantee that Google will ever actually go through with such plans, so we’ll just have to wait and see how far it’s willing to take them.

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