Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google was asked by Congress about the political bias in Google search and other Google products. By this a question arises very generally what Google is capable of in terms of tracking our data and storing information.Similar questioning of Mark Zuckerberg and passing of GDPR with Cambridge Analytica Scandal- how our information is being collected and what is being done with it has become a big question and will continue to be explored in 2019 also.
So now the question arises -how much information does Google really know about you? Most of the people are interacting with Google and its products daily using their phones or computers but most of them are not familiar with Google’s privacy policies. Also there are some conspiracy theorists who can provide much more information regarding this but here’s what we know about google’s data tracking.
What does Google know about me?
Google tracks information you input through its Search engines, internet-related services, apps etc. We are authorizing them to collect datas through Google’s privacy policies and terms and conditions which we never really read. Basically it is collecting data and creating an image of you with whatever information you input using Google’s products.Some commonly used applications and what they collect are:-
- Google Chrome- Browsing History
- Google Photos- People and places tagged
- Google Search- Queries searched
- Google Ads- clicked Ads,topics interested in
- Google Shopping- Searched and clicked products
- Google Maps- Location searched, travelled places, date of travelling, mode of transportations
- Youtube Videos- Videos liked, shared and uploaded
These are probably the applications from where Google does collect our information which naturally leads us to the next question.
What is Google doing with our information?
Though Google is known to as Search Engines but to marketers it is mostly known as marketing medium. One can advertise through Google in various ways like Ads,
Shopping ads,videos etc. Google uses this information to target visitors through various platforms. Suppose if we want to target our visitors for setting up an ad we can easily target by age, location, gender etc not only that we can target on consumer’s interests and behaivours too. We can target someone who is in market be it for anything.
Is it Good or Bad?
Being marketers we like having specific targeting options available to us so that we can target consumers easily but some may think it is an expropriation of Google to access our private information. I would like to have relevant ads served to me for things I’m interested in, even if that means my personal information is being used. However,everyone is not going to like how much information Google has access to, and may want to limit the amount of data you are giving away. There are a few ways to do this:
- Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
- Use private browsing (a.k.a. Incognito Mode)
- Adjust your privacy setting through Google’s Activity Controls
- Turn off location reporting in Google maps
- Use a different browser or Search Engine
- Delete your Google accounts