Can you imagine your life without Google? You want to get information about something but don’t have the option to google it. You need to go to an unknown place but don’t have the service of google map. Yes, Google has become an indispensable part of our lives. From answering all our queries to finding routes to our destination, Google is the link to many products that make our life easy. It has successfully established itself as a digital counterpart in modern times. Ever wondered if Google could learn something about you each time you use a Google product? For instance, the kind of music you like based on the songs you listen to YouTube? Or your shopping preference based on e-commerce browsing history? Yes, Google has the power to harvest all your personal details! Let us find out does Google Knows More About You Than Your Mother Does?
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How much do you think Google knows about you? Does Google Knows More About You Than Your Mother? Does Let us find out the answer.
- Whenever we look for something online, Google saves our search and through artificial intelligence and machine learning, serves us with similar ads. Google also creates a profile of each of its users based on their interests, demographics, location, income, and targets relevant ads to them.
- Google apps use and save our location history. Each time that we travel, Google has access to our travel history. It uses the data to send geo-targeted ads and personalized suggestions to its users.
- Google also has access to all the apps downloaded in our smartphones through Google store including the information saved in those apps. It also has access to our bank details, purchase histories, and app usage history. It uses this information to influence our spending decisions.
- Gmail, the email service provided by Google, keeps track of all the emails sent by the user and the chat history of the user. It also has access to all our Gmail contacts, our conversations and the location of these contacts.
- Whenever we watch a YouTube video or search for something on YouTube, it saves our browsing history. This helps Google recommend us similar videos in the app. Also, it uses the platform to target relevant ads in between the videos.
- The Google Assistant program is an artificial intelligence powered virtual assistant program developed by Google. It allows users to interact with Google through natural voice as well as through keyboard input. It helps users to search the internet, schedule alarms, events and do lots more. Google Assistant, besides recognizing the voice search, saves all the audio command made to it, integrates it with Google AdWords and sends personalized ads to users.
- Google photos save all our photos in albums which uses face recognition technology to identify us and all our friends and relatives. So Google can identify all our contacts.
- Google books collect information about the kinds of books we are interested in, the average time we spend on reading those books and basis this suggests and markets the types of books we might be interested in reading in the future.
Why does Google collect all this data about us?
All the information collected by Google about us is worth millions of dollars. While Google may or may not sell this information directly, some data brokers collect and sell personal data, with or without our consent to various firms. According to Visual Capitalists, these brokers earn more than 426 million dollars by selling personal data. The firms then use our personal profile for marketing their products to us.
Google also uses this information to understand us better and send us the most relevant information and averts. Google has been adopting machine learning to understand its users’ interests. The practice of behavioral advertising by Google ensures that users get highly targeted ads based on their preferences.
But this is the case with virtually every other online site. Whenever we visit any website, the website saves our personal information and preferences to target specific ads to us.
It is the amount of data that Google has about us through its various products that are alarming. It has an enormous amount of detailed and sensitive consumer data!! Everything that we do and everything that we are, Google knows about it. So much so that it goes in wrong hands, it has the ability to destroy each one of us. This is the reason why there has been so much debate recently about data privacy and privacy breach.
Also, Google doesn’t delete server data. However bowing down to pressure, Google has started anonymizing the data after 18 months from collecting it. But issues have been raised that even this anonymous data can be identified when combined with other data.
And the worst part? Privacy laws guarantee little protection in this regard.
So, how to deal with it?
Be more aware of your privacy rights
Google Privacy Centre attempts to educate the users on how to protect their data while using Google products. Though it is not completely flawless and breach free, yet it helps the users have some control over their data.
Turn off web history
Google has Personalized Search turned on by default. That is why it uses users’ data to offer them highly accurate behavioral ads. We can turn off this service by going on the Web History option and changing the setting.
Across Google apps, we can modify and enhance our privacy settings. E.g., in Picasa, while on default the images saved are made public, we can choose to share those pictures with a group of people or can keep those pictures private. We can also disable Google Location History and Google Location Sharing to stop sharing our location by default. We can go to activity control and pause data sharing from all installed apps. We can delete our activity history on google. These are some ways in which we can take charge of our Google account.
Turn off suggestion feature in Google Chrome
Google Suggest tries to guess which web address we want to go to while we type in the Omnibox address bar in Chrome. It also makes suggestions based on our previous searches and preferences. This feature also stores the search history on Google’s servers. This service, which is activated by default, can be turned off. Alternatively, we can also opt for incognito search mode, which does not save our search history, cookies, and downloads.
Opt out of personalized Ads
Google accounts have the feature of opting out of personalized ads. While this setting is turned on by default, users can turn it off. This will stop Google from sending out behavioral and interstitial ads.
While Google has become part and parcel of our lives, it has also been the primary culprit behind our privacy breach. The enormous amount of personal and sensitive data collected by Google through its various platforms can be used for fraudulent purposes if it goes in the wrong hands. While the Government has formulated no proper laws in this regard, it is entirely upon us on how we want to protect our data.
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