Google Ad-targeting and Privacy Concerns

Last month I received the ad below:

Visit Avila Beach

On the surface, this ad seems harmless enough. After all, living in Los Angeles, I would love to take a drive through the central coast and spend a weekend in Avila Beach and maybe even go surfing in my new, very warm and cozy Body Glove Red Cell wetsuit. However, why this ad was targeted at me is cause for concern. I received this ad only after a few communications in MS Outlook with a student of mine, who has, let’s just say, a similar name.

For those who aren’t aware, FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and is a US federal law that governs the access to educational information and records by public entities such as potential employers, publicly funded educational institutions, and foreign governments. For me, I send a lot of communications through my Android device, which raises a few important questions such as, 1) Is Google scanning my Outlook communications?, 2) Is Google taking screenshots of my devices, and 3) Does any of this violate FERPA?

I’d love to hear some answers…