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"They said to target homeless people because they're the least likely to say anything to the media."

Teams were dispatched to target homeless people in Atlanta, unsuspecting students on college campuses around the U.S. and attendees of the BET Awards festivities in Los Angeles, among other places. [...] Project leaders specifically told the TVCs to go after people of color, conceal the fact that people's faces were being recorded and even lie to maximize their data collections. [...]

"We were told not to tell (people) that it was video, even though it would say on the screen that a video was taken," a source said, adding that video of each user was stored under each TVC's profile and periodically reviewed in performance meetings.

"If the person were to look at that screen after the task had been completed, and say, 'Oh, was it taking a video?'... we were instructed to say, 'Oh it's not really,'" the source said. [...]

TVCs were encouraged to rush subjects through survey questions and a consent agreement and walk away if people started to get suspicious, the for-hire workers said. [...] "Basically distract them and say anything. 'Just go ahead and hit the next button. Don't even worry about that.' That kind of stuff. Really just move it along. 'Let's go. Hit all the next buttons,'" the former temp said, snapping his fingers for emphasis. [...]

"They said to target homeless people because they're the least likely to say anything to the media," the ex-staffer said. "The homeless people didn't know what was going on at all." [...] The manager spoke to the TVCs going to Atlanta and stressed that the company is "trying to target darker skin people." [...]

An image of the agreement appears to give Google vast leeway with the face data. It says Google could keep the scans "as long as needed to fulfill the purposes which is expected to be about five years." Perhaps most unsettling, the consent agreement gave Google the right to "retain, use or share non-personally identifying or aggregate data without limitation for any purpose," and said the data could be processed "outside the country," including places "where you may have fewer rights."

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6 Responses:

  1. Jackson says:

    I kind of want a big, industrial-ish case like that now.

  2. Waider says:

    Giant irony: I clicked on the link and got "Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries." In other words, "your privacy laws are too strong and we can't guarantee we won't reuse your data in some way that violates your rights". Niiiice.

  3. MattyJ says:

    "about five years." Around the end (times) of Trump's second term. COINCIDENCE?!

  4. "The workers ... were paid through a third-party employment firm called Randstad."

    Company name checks out.

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