15 Ways Google Collects Your Private Info and Data
Google and “privacy” are two words that have never gotten along well. The industry leader has often been accused of going too far in their data collection on users. There is very little that the company cannot know, and this should alarm you. They act benevolent now and promise to never share data maliciously, but promises can be broken and power structures changed. Chances are that when Google gets a new CEO, they will still have your data, and they will still be able to damage you with it.
Here are 15 methods that Google can and will use to collect your personal information:
Google likes to take in as much network information as they can, making sure that they are knowledgeable about the landscape of the internet. This has gone to controversial levels, and Google has often been accused of network snooping.
Unless you are subverting their efforts by using a VPN, they have likely gotten all of the information you send and receive on that network. Based on the technology Google was using, you would need that type of encryption on your connection to keep yourself safe.
In the collection of data for Google Maps, have you ever thought about what those ostentatious street vans might capture? Possessions might be shown left in the open or details that could be used to break into your home could be out there. Perhaps you are hiding and don’t want to be found and your car’s license plate shows up on the street view. It’s a lot to think about, and there are a lot of personal details that could be inferred from that information that you might not want online.
You probably already know that Google takes its search data and analyzes it heavily so that it can produce better results and keep track of what matters to people. It will share these results with everyone for business purposes as well as advertising purposes.
What you should know is that it keeps track of your search data. It will keep track of your history and for all intents and purposes make a profile based on your apparent interests. This can be a great breach of privacy, and the possibilities of what one can do with this data are endless. The data collection of course branches into images searches, among other things. Much can be inferred about your habits and interests from this, and maybe you don’t want anyone else to know.
Google has a wide variety of applications available for use, and not all of them are on Google-made devices. Even if you have a Windows or Apple computer or smartphone, you should be wary of what you download and what fields you fill out within an application you are using.
Many of the devices Google produces will have a GPS component within them in order to aid applications in their functions. It also allows Google to track your location and as such make determinations based off of your movement patterns. Be careful about what you are carrying on your person and what might be accessible by satellite.
Android is developed by Google, so it stands to reason that any device that runs Android will be collecting information for Google. Searches, apps and basic functions are all fair game for data collection, and you should be concerned given the propensity we have to use our smartphones without thinking.
Chrome is a great browser that can be one of the fastest and generally most useful around, but it also collects your data. Whether through your browser history or through the search bar itself, your personal information’s integrity is in question. Other things you should note are autocomplete forms and any plugins or tools that you use with the browser. If you want to surf through the net without leaving any traces behind, here’s 25 most wanted tips for private browsing.
Some people aren’t aware of this yet, but YouTube is owned by Google and your playlist information and watched history isn’t safe. Google can take a look at what you are doing online and what videos you watch. Much like your search and purchasing history, this says a lot about you. The videos you like and favorite inform their algorithms as well.
Sometimes referred to as Google Payments, Wallet is Google’s financial processing service which of course uses your financial information. While you do have to trust some company with this information, you need to make sure that you think Google knows what it is doing with your bank account information and your credit card information. It all gets processed through Google at some step in the process.
What Ads Work
Do you click on the ads Google provides for you? Google keeps track of that by necessity for its business model. Keeping an eye on your purchasing habits is considered by some to be an invasion of privacy, and that sort of behavior is Google’s calling card.
Social Media and Friends
Google Plus is a very public social network and Google certainly takes notes on what you do along with what your friends do. In fact, even if you do nothing you will find that Google takes notes on what they do assuming that you are similar to them. It might not be fair, but your personal information and habits are estimated based on their habits.
Your preferences on Google News can be monitored and mined for data. This information can be used to determine your political leanings, interests, concerns and regional affiliations. The default settings and sources nearly force you to narrow things down, and that’s when you let Google know what you’re really about.
Google pays attention to who you send your mail to, who you get your mail from and what spam you are interested in. The contents of your email is as personal as it gets when it comes to the internet, and Google has access. Whether it uses the data or regularly searches it or not is beside the point, as the ability to do so is problematic enough.
Google is more than a search engine, it is a titan that grows more powerful every single day. You should at least be aware of the data is has on you and just what you can do (if anything) to stop it. Do you have any other information you’d like to share or know of any other ways Google collects your personal information? Leave a comment below and help inform everyone.