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Google taps your IP address for Starbucks targeting

Except when it does something else

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Google's search engine monopoly now offers so-called local results - even if you neglect to key in your particular location.

Today, with a post to the Official Google Blog, the Mountain View Chocolate Factory trumpeted a worldwide roll-out of new tech that serves up local search results according to your IP address.

"When you search on Google, we will guess where you are and show results near you," the post reads. "In most cases, we match your IP address to a broad geographical location."

As usual, Google leaves you wondering what it does in all the other cases. This may or may not extend beyond the ability to set your own location using a link in the top right-hand corner of the results page. We've asked Google for clarification, but have yet to hear back.

"We try to make our guesses as good as they can be so that whether you're shopping for groceries, sporting goods or flowers, or looking for your bank, your gym or the post office, you can just say what you want, and we'll try to find it right where you are," the post rambles on. "You can also search for specific stores or street addresses near you."

Google has long provided this sort of local search, pinpointing nearby businesses on a Google map, but only if you specifically provided your location.

Of late, the company has exhibited a multifaceted obsession with online geolocation. In February, it rolled out Google Latitude, which lets you track friends and family via their mobile devices. And soon thereafter, it introduced a Gmail "Labs" offering that shows off the location of the people you're chatting with over email.

Nonetheless, Google insists that IP addresses are not personally identifiable information. ®

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