What does Google know about you?

Thanga Raja
Technology Specialist
October 13, 2018
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If you are using services like Google, Gmail, youtube or other similar sites then you are being tracked by the companies who own the websites. It doesn’t matter how you access those websites. You may be accessing using web browsers like internet explorer, fire fox, chrome from your laptop or desktop or even using smart phone like iPhone or other Android phone. Your each activity in those websites along with some other details (called meta data) are collected and transferred to Google frequently.

  1. Google knows your personal details like
    1. Name, gender and birth date
    2. Mobile numbers.
  2. Google knows your present and past locations you visited. So it knows your home, office location.
  3. What you did on Google websites or Android device. For e.g. how did you access Google websites, how many hours you spent and much more. https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity
  4. The list of Apps you installed in the Android phone. https://myaccount.google.com/permissions
  5. Your personal details like what you like and what you don’t and much more. https://adssettings.google.com/authenticated
  6. What you searched on Google, Youtube and other Google websites. https://www.youtube.com/feed/history/search_history

Google Privacy

To know more, please visit https://privacy.google.com/your-data.html

But why does Google collect so much of information?

Consider you are visiting a food festival in which thousands of restaurants from all over the world provides vast variety of food. You are visiting there and you like fish very much. So you wander looking for fish. The place is so huge, crowded and it is extremely difficult for you to navigate through multiple stalls and looks for fish. So you visit few stalls, give up and leave the place.

Now what if there is a person helps to find the stall which serves the food you like. He collects your details and tells exactly where to find the food you like. In-case the food you look is not available then he also recommends for other foods you may be interested. He didn’t stop there. The next time you visit the same kind of festival; he remembers you without even asking you and continues providing recommendations.

Google does the same thing as same as the person in a food festival but in much a better way. Instead of asking you directly, it tracks you everything you do in its websites or devices. It keeps log about you. It recognizes you every time you visit and it provides a better experience to you using the data it collects.

What is Google doing with my data?

Consider the same food festival example. The person has lots of information about each visitor. Based on the information, he will suggest the food the visitor likes. At the same time, he can also suggest restaurant owner that what the foods are liked most as well as not liked by customers. With the help of the person, business owner can prepare food which attracts more customers to the restaurant.

Likewise, when you search for the particular term in Google, Google detects your identification based on your location, device which you use and other details. Based on that, it will show the relevant results.

To know more, please visit https://privacy.google.com/how-ads-work.html

Google has so much of our information. Won’t they sell my data?

There is a common misconception that Google steals our data or sells your data. Google do not steal the data as well as not selling your data. Consider the example above. What happens if the person starts selling your data? Whoever has the data soon will start doing business on their own. Due to that he will loose the business to the competitor. Google wants to do continuous business using the data they collect from you. So they do not sell your data.

Is my data safe with Google?

Google claims that it takes the security very serious and it takes necessary precautions to keep our data safe from intruders as well as natural disasters.

For E.g. Gmail supports encrypted connections which make hackers hard to read our emails. It also has an in-build spam filter which filters suspicious emails using machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The data is not maintained in single server or single location. Instead, Google maintains the data in multiple servers called data centers located in multiple locations. Incase of any natural disaster, the data access has been shifted to another data center located in another locations.

To know more, Please visit https://www.google.com/about/datacenters/inside/data-security/index.html

Can I tell Google not to track me?

Yes. You can tell Google not to track you. But if you disable the tracking, Google will no longer able to recognise you as well as not able to provide the best user experience based on your needs. You can disable by visiting to https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols?pli=1

Disable Web & App Activity

You may stop seeing more relevant search results. However Google may temporarily use information from recent searches in order to improve the quality of the active search session.

Location History

You may not see recommendations based on places you have visited

Device Information

Google may not recognise when you say the names of people in your contact list.

Voice & Audio Activity

Google may not understand what you say when you do a voice search or action

YouTube search history

You may no longer see recommendations for content or creators you’ll like.

YouTube Watch History

you may not be able to quickly find videos again or see recommendations for content you’ll like.

Takeout

You can also download the data which are collected and stored by Google. You can either download all or some of it.

  1. Go to https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout and select what you need to download.
  2. Google will prepare archives and notify you via email with link to download.

Once downloaded, you can extract in your local.

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