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How Google uses your Internet searches to target ads at you Add to ...

How your browser behaviour determines the advertising that follows you

Google Inc. broke Canada’s privacy law by using sensitive information about users’ online activities to target them with health-related ads, the country’s interim privacy commissioner said Wednesday.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada investigated Google’s practices after receiving a complaint from a man with sleep apnea, which interferes with breathing during sleep.

After searching online for medical devices to treat sleep apnea, the man was shocked to discover he was being pitched devices for the condition when he visited websites that had no relation to the sleep disorder, the commissioner said on Wednesday.

Canada’s privacy law forbids the targeting of consumers using “sensitive personal information.”

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Here's how Google's ad targeting works.