Google Users To Be The Stars Of Online Ads
Google is facing a privacy backlash after revealing plans to use pictures of Google+ users in online advertisements - without their permission.
The Internet giant said that from November 11 it may publish usernames, profile photographs, reviews and ratings in what it is calling "shared endorsements".
The idea is to give online adverts a "social" context, making them less annoying and more engaging for internet users suspicious of commercial marketing.
Users who like a song in the Google Play store or rate a favourite restaurant could find their approvals harvested and published as official recommendations.
Google's plans are similar to shared endorsements currently used by Facebook, which faced legal action over the practice in 2011. It ended up paying $20m (£12.49m) in damages to users whose pictures it had used without permission.
Google said on its website: "To ensure that your recommendations reach the people you care about, Google sometimes displays your reviews, recommendations and other relevant activity throughout its products and services.
"This sometimes includes shopping contexts, like Google Music play store and ads. Your profile name and photo may appear with the recommendation."
Users will be able to opt out of the plans, but privacy campaigners are concerned many people could be unaware they have already been opted in without their consent.
Some activists are warning of a campaign of digital disobedience to subvert the plans. Ideas swapped on social media sites include users changing their profile pictures to that of Google boss Eric Schmidt.
In response, Google said: "The privacy and security of our users is one of our top priorities.
"We believe our Terms of Service updates are a positive step forward in clarifying important privacy and security details for our users, and are in full compliance with the law."
Last month, MPs accused Google of failing to crack down on illegal downloads and using "flimsy" excuses for its lack of action.
The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee said it was "unimpressed" with the internet giant's efforts to tackle online piracy.