More than a billion users across the world are using Google products and services and most of them are free. Google makes money by tracking users interests and it is not a secret anymore. Princeton WebTAP project discovered 75% of top internet websites running Google trackers. This technology is then used to serve advertisements to users with matching interests. We are using free service but it comes at a cost that is “Our Personal Information”. It is only one aspect of your life known to Google and it does not end here. People might know Google as “The Search Company” but it is an advertisement company in reality. So take a backseat and read this with undivided attention to take a stock of your life lying on Google servers. The idea is to understand the risk to our privacy and Google’s stand on user data privacy.
Google Knows A Lot About You
Google collects our information in several ways and its reach is expansive. So take a sneak peek into this, how much the company knows about us. One gives up all the following personal information for free service from Google:
- Name, date of birth and gender
- Personal cellphone numbers
- Recent Google searches
- Websites visited
- Wherever one’s been over past years
- Favorite Sports, teams, music, food artists and more
- Physical Address
- Voice recordings (When every time one uses Google Assistant)
A Giant Web of Data Collection
An average user may not know about tracking mechanism put in place to track our daily life. When you look at the pieces of information collected and joining them together makes a person identifiable. We have seen instances in the past when our information is used without our permission. You must be raising your eyebrows and holding your chin right now thinking when did all this got up there. Well! lets see.
Google account signup is the start of the bargain in exchange for your name, date of birth, location, cellphone number and gender. You can’t avoid this personal information suicide without giving up dreams of formidable Gmail, Drive, Plus, Photos and list goes on. I will reel off a post on alternatives of Google services very soon, it should help those who are under pressure of privacy loss.
“Google is search, search is Google.” This is the mouth of the tech giant and it definitely put its money on it “Search”. Search was the original concept of Google founders and look how far they have come. Google search is the most aggressive and invasive breach of privacy. It does not only use its search to know about our interest but it uses variety of other tracking techniques whenever you visit a website on internet. Millions of websites with Google trackers carry out this sophisticated data collection. So when someone sees an Amazon ad about a product which they recently searched for, so it is not a coincidence.
This one is pretty serious. Google map has improved by leaps and bounds in last few years and it has not kept innovation out of this product. It is everyone favorite navigation system because of real time traffic updates, turn by turn navigation and several integrations with local transport systems. While Google’s Android which has Google Map pre-installed on 2 billion+ devices. It becomes the default choice in majority of the cases. Google Maps saves all the places you have been in addition to home and work, which one might have saved in Google Maps. It is very easy to find someone’s whereabouts if a court asks Google to disclose their location.
Who does not love voice assistants and Google Assistant is one of them. For people growing up typing and searching for an answer on your screen, it is quite intriguing to interact with technology verbally. For starters, all the things which Google has on you can be used and seen by Google Assistant to help you in a better way. It includes your location, search history among other things which one shares voluntarily. It is certain that voice recordings are stored on Google cloud when you say the hot word “Ok Google”. Despite the several viral stories of Google Assistant recording voice with user’s knowledge.
The message should be clear if you have read so far that our online activities are monitored. YouTube searches, Hangouts conversations or Play Music are always interested in knowing us. One can always restrict the amount of data collection by Google and its services. You may also become a privacy advocate by exploring a life without Google. I will be writing very soon about giving less information to Google and continue with it. And more interestingly on looking beyond Google.