What Google Knows About You and Its Relationship with the Government
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Google knows your interests. It knows the news your read. It knows where you live. It knows where you went last weekend. It knows the videos you watch. It knows the web sites you visit. It knows the thoughts you had two years ago. This article explains why you should be concerned.
How does Google know all this? How anonymous is your data? Is this data being shared with the increasingly Big Brother-style government?
Those are the questions I'll answer, from my point of view. This is by no means the complete truth, but rather a curious analysis and observation of the largest Internet company and Western governments.
What Google Knows About You
What Google knows about you depends on the Google services you use. Below I list each Google service and the potential information it may be collecting about you from those services.
This section includes: Google.com (and other country domains), Blog search, Book search, Product Search, Image Search, Code Search, Catalogs, Finance, Movies, Music, Video Search, News Search, Patent Search, Scholar, University Search, U.S. Government Search and other vertical Google search engines not listed here.
Google may keep: Each keyword query. Sites you click on, both natural and PPC. The amount of time you spend on each site. Address of the website.
Using one of my Google accounts, I decided to check what Google Web Historywas about and I stumbled over some very tough questions. I had never used the tool, yet after turning it on, Google showed me my entire history for the last two months! Shouldn't the history start only after I turn on the tool? Why did it track me for months?
It seems that when you sign up for the tool, Google simply gives you access to whatever it's tracking about you. When you opt out of the tool, you simply remove your own access to the information, while Google continues tracking.
I think everyone has heard news of NSA spying on people's email and phone calls as an "anti-terrorist" measure. The US government also demanded user data from several torrent websites, which publicly refused to turn it over. Those sites were pressed further to share data.
My question, then, is this: does Google voluntarily share emails with the government?
There was an incident in which Google refused to share information with the government, but I'm still wary.
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