Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is Google tracking my personal information?

I came across an interesting article today claiming that Google is the Evil Empire. Here is a brief summary:

“Google routinely invades your privacy as part of some endeavor to build a better world…Each person online has a Google embedded cookie that tracks all your searching and reports to a database, where it is kept for two years…Despite legal concerns that this information can be linked to your name, address, SSN# and medical records – there is no way to opt-out or deactivate this monitoring…Google openly and freely admits that they scan every message you write and receive, every search, anything… looking for keywords to add to your trackable profile…the Nexus One and any Android phone using Google is a walking surveillance device that tracks your physical location and gives Google access to all activity you’re up with Facebook alerts, IMs, contact lists, calendar, browsing, etc… Anything Google develops – is for the purpose of gathering more information…which is how they make money…Don’t believe they’re building a better world by tracking your every keystroke…And there is no reason to believe they only transcribe voicemail. If the government can do eavesdropping, why can’t Google? You checked their privacy policy box.”

Wow. I never heard of any of that before and I feel dumb for not realizing it earlier. I decided to investigate. This is directly off of Google’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy:

We may set one or more cookies in your browser when you visit a website.

When you access Google services, our servers automatically record information that your browser sends whenever you visit a website.

Google may present links in a format that enables us to keep track of whether these links have been followed.

Google uses this same kind of software to scan for keywords in users’ emails which we can then use to match ads. When a user opens an email message, computers scan the text and then instantaneously display relevant information that is matched to the text of the message.

Google offers location-enabled services, such as Google Maps for mobile. If you use those services, Google may receive information about your actual location (such as GPS signals sent by a mobile device) or information that can be used to approximate a location (such as a cell ID).

When you send email or other communications to Google, we may retain those communications in order to process your inquiries, respond to your requests and improve our services.

There it is, written black and white. Google tracks you and everything that you do. Maybe it’s time to start using Bing?

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