TL;DR - ad trcking code is almost always de-coupled from the actual web page code, and give the plethora of options for IDing you (cookies, browser fingerprinting, etc
Don't get me wrong, I use them for very specific purposes, but...
If you use your regular browser and log into sites, or even once launch your regular browser and surf, all the ad-trackers from google, facebook et all will just learn that you are on such and such VPN IP instead of such and such ISP IP. It really only blocks your ISP to see what you are doing unless you practice op-sec. And guess what, op-sec is hard as fuck to do well, even for IT experts, much less an average user.
So, you are right, always assume your data is being sold. However, mitigating that is still not easy, and it never will be as long as there is potential monetary gain from collecting it.
With other titles I swing wildly the other way... Dune is good, but nothing near as good as the novel. LoTR, please don't get me started!
You couldn't pay me to use a spybook like this or Chromebooks.
That is rather tinfoil hatish. Do you use a smartphone? The internet? Then you are being tracked. You can minimize it but not eliminate it. As a 'boycott' your refusal is ineffectual at best as the spying device horse left the barn long ago. The choices now, are ignore it, or do your best to enter the discussion and try to point public policy in the right direction. That task feels a bit sisyphean, but it looks like you just gave up, instead of having something tangible to offer.
At first, the data was sparse. Some roads did not have speed limit data, some were incorrect, normally in the placement of a change in speed limit. However it quite quickly became usable, just from crowdsourced data.
Google maps includes turn lane indications so you know which lanes are left, right or straight through an unfamiliar intersection. This is very useful fir picking the correct lane when needing to make two turns in quick succession.
A fleet of cars with AI can also 'croudsource' and report changes to a data network. As long as a data connection or a local copy of the data is accessible, there is far more data that can be stored in the map than visual sensors allow.
I see no reason why this cannot be expanded to self driving cars to give them an up-to-date model in addition to it's own sensor data.
This article feels like FUD.
If you want to be an apologist for corporate fuckery, I have a katana shaped dildo for you. If you want to be an apologist for stupidity, go look in a mirror.
"I'm not a god, I was misquoted." -- Lister, Red Dwarf