Upset about how much of your data Facebook has? Wait until you see what Google has got on you.
Dylan Curran, an information technology consultant, took a look at just what Google knew about him. Even with his experience as a web developer, he was shocked.
“I was really like: ‘Oh, my God. This is preposterous,'” Curran said.
When he requested his data from Google, he found that it was constantly tracking his location in the background, including calculating how long it took to travel between different points, along with his hobbies, interests, possible weight and income, data on his apps and records of files he had deleted. And that’s just for starters.
He said he didn’t think Google was doing anything malicious. He just felt newly uncomfortable with being so closely tracked.
“It’s wrong to trust any entity that big with so much information,” he said. “They’re just trying to make money,” and at some point, “someone is going to make a mistake.”
His posts hit a nerve, with the thread racking up almost 150,000 retweets.
What Curran found is the reality that Google’s millions of users face every day, said Scott J. Shackelford, an associate business professor at Indiana University focusing on cybersecurity law and policy.
“All Google users are being tracked by default in terms of physically where [they’re] going and located,” Shackelford said. “That is shocking to a lot of people.”
Google does not sell this information and hasn’t experienced the same kind of data security failure as Facebook, which has come under fire after the personal information of 50 million Facebook users was harvested by a quiz app and then allegedly handed to a data analysis firm that targeted ads for President Donald Trump’s election campaign.
A spokesperson for Google stressed that people need to be aware of their online privacy choices and review them regularly.
“In order to make the privacy choices that are right for them, it’s essential that people can understand and control their Google data,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “Over the years, we’ve developed tools like My Account expressly for this purpose, and we’d encourage everyone to review it regularly.”
The good news is that Google does make available an array of privacy tools through the My Account feature that let users see their personal data and tracking history. It also allows people to turn off tracking mechanisms or delete individual pieces of data they want zapped.
Google users can go into their online profiles, take a peek and see:
A complete map of where you’ve been at what date and time since you started using Google on your phone.
Your entire online and search activity across all your devices.
Your advertising profile.
What apps you use.
Your entire YouTube history.