Who can now go without Google? This is the most used search engine in the world whose domain was registered on September 15, 1997. It is a service that indexes and catalogs all the elements present on the Internet, such as photos, videos, documents, emails, news, maps, translations...
Whenever we use Google, we transfer a huge amount of information to the servers of the big California company; information that Google itself uses to study our habits and, in their opinion, to offer us a better service. It is the concept of the so-called profiling that we have already discussed in the article: How do they spy on us via the Internet? Five tips to protect our data on the web.
What data does Google collect?
Any time Google asks for data, we usually share it without asking too many questions. In the Google privacy section , the types of data that are collected come listed and divided by category:
1. "Content created by you or that you provide": this is the data that is usually entered when the accounts are created, for example the username, password, telephone number, and, if you want to share it, a method of payment. Google also collects the content we create, load, or receive from others when we use their services. An example? The emails we write and receive, the photos and videos we save or share, the documents and worksheets we process, or the comments we leave on YouTube videos, etc.
2. "Data that we collect when you use our services": for example the type of browser you are using, information about your device (whether it is android or apple, your settings, what your operator is, etc.), your IP address, i.e. your network protocol on which the internet is based, which apps you download and install from the Play Store;
3. "Your activities": for example the terms we look for, the videos we watch, the ads we click on, the information transferred by means of the audio and voice features of our device, purchases, information about the contacts we communicate with or with whom we share content, the actions we make during the day, the sites we view and, probably, information on the log files (a register within our device that contains information inside it);
4. "Information about your position": this is the information we share using GPS, IP address, and sensors (devices in direct interaction with the system used).
What is listed above is only a portion of the data that we daily transfer to the electronic data archive of Google, whose services also have the purpose of indexing information about us that does not derive directly from our actions. Everything that third parties write about us is recorded in the colossal memory of the web giant.
It should be added that Google works in collaboration with their customers and partners and advertisers, reporting the same words, "offering search and advertising services on their behalf."
Nothing is for free, everything has a price
Google offers many useful services, but everything has a price! What brings about such generosity? How many times have you given out your personal data by subscribing to some service or downloading an application, thinking you "Anyway, it’s free"? The real Google business model is: we give them our data, leaving traces when we browse, consume, visualize or click on listings. Without this data, Google's entire economic model would disappear. But this isn’t the point. I can consciously choose to give my data to someone, just like I do with my savings and valuables. I choose whether to keep money stuffed in the mattress at home or deposit everything in the bank. The point is another thing: we are ignorant, because we have not yet understood how much our data is really worth.
Google , like Facebook and other web giants, works in collaboration with their customers and partners and advertisers to, repeating the same words, "offer research and advertising services on their behalf."
And so maybe, in the end, we deserve the spam mail, we deserve continuous telemarketing calls and identity theft. Because, if we don't know how much our data is worth then we will never protect it.
But is there the possibility of deciding what information to give or not to Google? Within Google there are options that I would call a console, a device that allows you to control, correct, and command something, called Privacy Control , which offers us the opportunity to look over and modify important settings about our privacy.
It is divided into:
1. Activity controls: where we can manage our information about web and app activities, location history, information about our device, voice and audio activity, YouTube search history and YouTube viewing history;
2. Ad settings: management of preferred ads, which we have already mentioned, that are proposed to us;
3. Personal information: where you can decide which personal information you want to make or not visible and, therefore, public;
4. Shared endorsements: in this section you have the possibility to decide whether or not to display your name next to your activities;
The only defense is balance and common sense
Let's be honest, Google's services are now necessary for any of our needs – from personal life to professional life. But perhaps the price to be paid begins to become sour. We cannot sell our personal lives to Google in exchange for some services, to the point where we feel like the protagonists of The Big Brother or The Truman Show.
Can we do something? Certainly we cannot eliminate technology from our lives. What we can do, however, is decide sparingly which personal data to provide or not, starting to give value to everything concerning our private life, from the mobile number to the home address to the holiday photos. Maybe Google will be a bit upset, but our lives will be more under our own control.