How would you feel if the checkout assistant knew you are incontinent? Or if the baker knew about your dreadful financial circumstances? Probably furious. But on the web, it’s perfectly normal for companies like Google to know all about your personal matters. Don’t want that? Then cut the flow of juicy info to Google.
Google’s business has always relied on ads and selling data. This is why all its services have been free from day one, enabling the company to penetrate increasingly more into all aspects of our lives. The price we pay for all these free goodies? Total surveillance and a loss of privacy. The search engine alone currently processes over 5 billion search requests every day, with every single search generating data for the company which it uses for its own purposes. The Google search engine is, however, just a tiny piece in the jigsaw. With services such as Google Mail, Google Calendar, Docs & Sheets, and above all the smartphone operating system Android, Google encourages you to introduce yourself by giving your name and contact details. This is because a Google account is required to use these services. And when you open one, you consent to Google assigning data to you personally from the get-go. When you’re standing at the entrance to the Google world, please drop off all your contact details on the way in. Goodbye anonymity.
There’s no escape
Take a moment to think about all the places you see Google – that’s right, it’s now everywhere: In PCs, on the web, in smartphones, cars, TVs, watches, and speakers. Google is building mega profiles on every single user, pieced together from all the data it’s got its hands on from different sources. This data is packed with intimate details about you, such as your political persuasion, health info, financial situation, sexual orientation, and a whole bunch more. Do you really want such information ending up in the hands of a for-profit corporation? Even if you avoid using Google products, there’s no escaping its clutches. That’s because you’re being snooped on by Google Analytics – an analysis tool that evaluates your user behavior – on almost 80 percent of every single website out there.
Some specific everyday examples
Personalized ad banners are the more harmless side of this data-gathering frenzy. Consequences are far worse if you frequently visit gambling sites and your creditworthiness ends up getting lowered. Or if your health insurer demands higher premiums because you’ve been visiting advice sites more frequently for information about cancer. Or goods are more expensive in shops depending on the device you use and your buying behavior. Or what happens if a totalitarian regime or extremists get their hands on such data that doesn’t fit their ideology. What Google intends to do with the data exactly is something only Google knows. We know this because for years the company has refused to allow independent data protection organizations access to take a look at its databases. Put an end to this. You’ll learn how in part 2.