Topic: Screenwise Select

I recently received an invitation from GfK on behalf of Google to participate in their Screenwise Select Panel. Basically they want me to agree to use their router at home and install listening devices near each TV and an app for my phone. The have sent me $7 in cash and promise $100 up front and $30 to $50 a month to agree to be spied on. They want to learn what web sites i visit and what media i watch.  i have no intention of joining or even going any farther than the screen showing the text below. At this point I have not agreed to any confidentiality statement so I feel i can safely post the content below. I find it interesting that they are willing to spend this kind of money to learn how people use technology for video entertainment. I wonder if this is Google's way of finding out why GoogleTV hasn't been a hit. You would think that Google could get most of this information from all the spying they do already. I just found it interesting and thought i would share it.

Thank you for considering joining the Screenwise Select Panel . We hope that the following information will help you decide to be a part of this important study.
Introduction to the Screenwise Select Panel

This website provides you with details, answer frequently asked questions, (for example, how do we collect and safely transmit data securely, how your personal identifiable information will be used, etc.) and, if you decide to do so, the opportunity to enroll in our research program.

Six Important Things To Know About The Screenwise Select Panel
1. What is the Screenwise Select Panel for?

The Screenwise Select Panel is a new research project being conducted for Google by GfK. The goal of the research is to gather information about your Internet usage, TV viewing and smartphone usage. Your household has been randomly selected from all the households in the U.S. to participate in this project. By participating, you will help Google better understand how people like you use the Internet and television.
2. Who is eligible to participate?

The first step to participate is for an adult (18 years old or older) to complete an online questionnaire that takes about 10 minutes to complete. This questionnaire will determine if you are eligible to participate. We will ask you some basic questions about your household’s background, lifestyle, and preferences.
3. What do you get for joining the Screenwise Select Panel ?

We have found that many panel members enjoy participating and knowing that they are helping to improve our understanding of media usage.

If you are qualified and agree to participate, you will receive a gift of $100 once you set up your household. For ongoing participation, your household will get at least $30 and up to $50 or more each month.
4. How does the study measure Internet use?

For most households, all you need to do is install a simple piece of hardware (a high-end router we call the Screenwise Router). We will mail this to your home, including easy-to-follow instructions to install. However, if you have any trouble, GfK will be here to support you by phone, email, or by going to your home to help out. The Router works with computers and other devices that you might have connected to your home network.

The Router will transmit information about your household’s Internet use (for example, what web sites are visited) to Google’s secure servers.

For households who qualify for the smartphone measurement portion of the Screenwise Select Panel, participants will be asked to install an ‘app’ on their smartphone from Lumi that will measure their Internet and mobile phone usage.

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

How will information about my household be used?

GfK will not sell your contact information (i.e. your name, street address, or e-mail address) to third parties. GfK may use portions of your address in an effort to continually improve the panel. If you would like a complete list of the third parties GfK may use, please contact us at For further information about how GfK will use your personal information, please review the Knowledge Networks Screenwise Select Panel Privacy Policy. The Google Screenwise Select Panel Privacy Policy describes how Google will collect, use and share data from this project.

GfK and Google will be collecting and storing information about how you use the Internet and television (and smartphone, if applicable) in connection with demographic categorical information about your household. For example, your usage would be combined with race, Hispanic origin, age, and Census-block data, but NOT with your contact information. GfK will use your contact information to make sure everything is running smoothly with the router, TV tab, and smartphone software. Google will not collect any information entered within secured (https) web pages, such as banking or credit card information, although Google may collect URL data when you visit a secured https web page. For example, we may collect that you visited, but we will not collect any information that you enter on the website, as long as that information does not appear in the URL.

Detailed information on what will be collected and how your data will used can be found here.
5. How does the study measure television viewing?

For each of your TVs, we will provide a device called the Screenwise TV Tab. The Screenwise TV Tab is the size of a smartphone. It will collect information that will be used to determine what is being viewed on TV, as well as when and for how long it is viewed.

The Screenwise TV Tab is measuring the sound coming out of your television speaker and therefore must be placed near the speaker. These sounds then are changed into “audio signatures.” Only these signatures, and nothing else, will be sent to Google via the Screenwise TV Tab. These “audio signatures” cannot be used to play sound or listen to what was captured - they contain raw data that is later used to match with a database of signatures to determine what program was being watched.
6. What else should I know about information privacy?

    If you elect to join this program, you are required to read and agree to the Screenwise Select Panel Privacy Policies. Please be sure to review these privacy policies, as you are agreeing to the following key items, as well as others:
    GfK may collect and share with Google the age, gender, race, media usage, and education level of the members of your household, along with other data you provide as part of the panel.
    As a member of the panel, you are authorizing Google to collect data about the websites you visit and the duration of time you spend on them, as detailed in the privacy policy.
    DoubleClick Cookie: your participation in the program requires that you agree to allow Google to tie your data (including PII) collected during your participation in Screenwise to your DoubleClick cookie. This means that Google will be able to show targeted ads to you based on both aggregated data about you as outlined on the Google Ad Preference Manager, but also based on data including your personally identifiable information. Additionally, your agreement will allow Google to combine existing cookies on your computers with any new cookies added to your computers during the course of the panel.
    If you choose, you can also browse privately on the Internet, through a home computer (desktop/laptop/tablet), at any time during your participation in the panel. To do so, you login as a guest on the Screenwise Router. For participants using the smartphone application, this option will not be available.
    Google and its vendors may also collect information about your household’s television viewing habits and smartphone usage, as described in the privacy policy.

What do I do NEXT?

If you are ready to determine if your household is eligible click the JOIN NOW button.

Tar, feathers, congress. Some assembly required.

Re: Screenwise Select

BoloMKXXVIII wrote:

What do I do NEXT?



Linux Guy - Occasional Chumby Hacker

Re: Screenwise Select

And the sad part is, there are probably actually people on this planet who would so blatantly sell out their privacy for that money.

Re: Screenwise Select

This literally takes my breath away. It's worse than any Sci-fi movie ever came up with. If this statement is telling you this much, imagine what they're *really* going to gather. This is more than I ever imagined from Google's "Great Convergence of 2012." Even a little gadget to listen to the sound from the TV? Like it's not going to listen to everything else? The big bull is "no 3rd party" disclosure. Well, they don't consider Gfk a 3rd party, because they're paid by Google. Same for everybody that works for Gfk. Not only that, but half the web is already owned by Google, so they're first parties.

Funny, we always worried about the Government spying on us. Now, it's just "friendly" business paying for your cooperation. Might as well sell a kidney.

You know Google's Chrome and Android aren't really free because they gather priceless info about you. I guess next they'll give away "free" routers. Of course,they'll only work with Chrome. On the other hand, if you're out shopping and forget your daughter's shoe size, you can probably just "Google it."

Thanks for sharing this crazy stuff with us. It's good to know I'm not just paranoid. (Although now I'm getting afraid to get any email from g-mail.)

Re: Screenwise Select

I would love to get my hands on the router and see what exactly they have done to it.

They sent a 20 page, full color booklet, two letters and the $7 cash just to invite me to join their research project. Anyone who joins gets a free high end router, a service technician is sent to their house and they are paid $100 up front and $30 - $50 a month for the duration. They obviously really want whatever information they are trying to collect. I know Google has insane amounts of money but this seems to be a very expensive research project.

I have three things I am really curious about:

1) How many people were invited to join?
2) How many people will actually be part of the study?
3) What exactly are they trying to figure out?

I read everything they sent and everything on the website before I have to agree to anything. It appears they primarily want to know how people consume media but there is more to it than that. Even if I were stupid enough to be their lab rat I wouldn't get an answer to my questions.

I wonder if Google realizes their results will be skewed by the fact that only dumb or ignorant people will actually become a part of their study.

Tar, feathers, congress. Some assembly required.

Re: Screenwise Select

BoloMKXXVIII wrote:

I wonder if Google realizes their results will be skewed by the fact that only dumb or ignorant people will actually become a part of their study.


Actually, there will be those who will sign up for it, then go stuff the Google router behind a segregated part of their firewall with one "dummy" computer on it where they do some vanilla surfing.  The "TV Tabs" will likewise be isolated; sealed in an insulated box with a speaker connected to the TV's aux out connection.

Gotta love self-install kits, eh?

Re: Screenwise Select

Alternatively, SOCKS proxy.  Find yourself a nice cheap shell account, and then put a plugin like Proxy Selector on Firefox.  Connect to the shell account via PuTTY, configure tunneling in PuTTY, then set up a Proxy Selector option that uses that tunnel as a SOCKS5 proxy.  Now, any time you want to hide your browsing habits, just turn on the proxy and Screenwise/Google get a nice chunk of encrypted data tongue

Re: Screenwise Select

Great ideas (some I actually already considered) but I am sure all would violate the terms of the agreement.

There is no self-install kit. They send out a technician to do the install.

I wish I could hand-off the request to someone else but there is a code tied to my address. I am really interested in finding out what their exact motives are with this project. I may have to search the web to see what others have posted (using duckduckgo instead of google).

Tar, feathers, congress. Some assembly required.