Are Google's Behavior-Based Ads a New Privacy Concern? - Page 2

And even though there are plans to label the ads provided by Google on the AdSense partner network and YouTube with information on how those ads are served, Cooper feels those labels could be more intensive.

"They talked about labeling the ads, which is something we've been talking about for a long time, and a link on the ad is a good idea," Cooper adds. "But it's unclear about whether having an ad with a link that says, 'Ad by Google' will be effective for people wanting to see how they can defend their privacy."

Some analysts believe that Google is doing an effective job of being cautious with users' privacy.

Berin Szoka, a fellow at The Progress & Freedom Foundation and director of the Center for Internet Freedom, suggests that Google's piling-on by some privacy advocates could be somewhat unwarranted, and that the company gives "consumers more granular control over their own privacy preferences by developing better tools."

"Because these services [and their competitors] are all free, Google has to compete in what economists call 'non-price terms'-such as privacy," Szoka wrote in a research report distributed on March 11. "So, Google has a lot to lose by alienating its users and a lot to gain by being seen as a leader in privacy protection."

"It's no accident that Google was a late-comer to the OBA [Online Behavioral Advertising] market, lagging behind Yahoo in particular," Szoka added in the paper. "The most likely reason Google has taken its time in rolling out an OBA product is that Google is subject to a unique level of scrutiny by privacy advocates by virtue of its size. Being the 'big kid on the block,' Google has to be especially careful not to appear to be 'Big Brother.'"

Even if Google has no interest in becoming Big Brother, it still seems focused on becoming truly big.

Despite CEO Eric Schmidt's announcement, at Morgan Stanley Technology Conference in San Francisco on March 3, that Google was "not immune" from "very, very tough" economic conditions, the company seems determined to push into new and untested areas.

Schmidt also decided to push Google to the forefront of the U.S. renewable energy debate, arguing that his company has a clean energy plan that will cut greenhouse-gas emissions in half by 2030.

On March 11, Google announced the release of Google Voice, an application that not only consolidates all of a user's phones onto a single number, but also transcribes voicemail and makes it available for download.

Google Voice is an updated version of GrandCentral, a service that Google acquired in July 2007.

Earlier in March, Google unveiled new features for its Google Health solution, which now allows users to share their public medical profiles with trusted contacts.