Is Google Spying on Me Right Now?
If you have a feeling that you’re being watched while you’re browsing the internet at home, you’re not wrong. At all times a major company is keeping tabs on what you do whether you’re using your phone, laptop, tablet, or another device. They are keeping track when you’re not even touching a screen at all. Chances are you’re not fully aware of how many different ways and to what extent Google is tracking your movements through their services. Once you’re aware of how much data they are taking in from you and what exactly they’re doing with it, you can decide for yourself if you feel spied on.
Maybe you’re seeing ads pop up for something you looked for weeks ago. Perhaps you looked up flights to San Diego once and now you can’t stop getting emails from airlines about price drops on flights to California. These targeted advertisements are a result of online surveillance. Some people argue this system is beneficial to a consumer. If advertisements are getting smarter and more catered to you then you could end up finding great deals and products that you would enjoy. Others feel violated and in some ways manipulated by target advertising. Also on top of that, you might not be getting the best deals after all.
You may have already heard of the hot topic term Surveillance Capitalism. When a company is tracking your data and then turning around and selling it to companies that want to target you for advertisement, they are capitalising on surveilling you. Google has been at the forefront of this movement and as a result, has grown in business exponentially. While more Google-operated products come out, like the Google home or their Wear OS smartwatch operating system, they’re retrieving data from all different aspects of a consumer’s life. It goes well beyond what you type into the search engine. Google is tracking your movements online whether you’re using their services or not. Google can track your purchases even when you go directly to a website via their URL.
Don’t forget Google isn’t only documenting what you’ve searched for and everything you’ve bought or browsed in the past, they also know where you were located when you made that movement online. If you do most of your online shopping in your own home or at the coffee shop down the street, Google knows that. Since most of us carry at least one piece of technology on us at all times, companies have a pretty good method of tracking your day to day movements in real life and the web.
Google Is Spying On You
Not only does Google know how long you spent at a Starbucks on a Tuesday in July of 2019, along with everything you looked up while you were there, they likely have the conversation you had with your mate that day too. It’s not even a secret, Google records the things you’ve said around your electronic device as a way to “improve its language recognition tools” and you’ve agreed to it.
Use Google My Activity to get a better idea of exactly what information they’ve collected on you over the years. At any time you can download the massive quantity of data they have on you individually. What’s hard to imagine is their infinite server space can handle all of that information for so many individuals. Even more shocking, are they preserve that data for what we currently know as forever. Time will tell what forever means but as of now, that data isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t get deleted over time, it’s always there and laws are constantly changing on what they can do with it.
Luckily you can take some steps to manage these tracking services. Use your Google accounts Activity Controls to implement new restrictions on what they can track in terms of your activity and location history. You can delete the data they already have on you and even implement an automatic wipe of data every 3 or 18 months. Of course, that doesn’t mean they can’t sell that data in the 3 months. Our society may never escape target advertising at this point.
Does any of this concern you? Will you take a page out of Google’s book next time you’re searching for spy gadgets online? Remember, if you maintain constant surveillance and collect information for the sake of having the information – you will end up with something useful. Maybe even profitable.