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Google is taking Privacy to Orwell’s 1984 by Secretly Tracking Locations since start of 2017.

How to get an edge on data by exploiting the data of well, everyone; simply track them without their permission. It turns out, Google has been accessing data about Android users’ locations, even when the user believes that the data is being kept private.

Give me a reason to trust Amazon, and not Google in the race to consumer facing AI? You don’t have to look far if you are a privacy advocate. What ever happend to a little something called the “opt-in”?

According to Quartz, Android phones have been recording the addresses of nearby cellular towers and sending the data back to Google since early 2017, regardless of the user’s location-sharing settings. Well then, Pixel phone, no thanks!

Google is a Privacy Nightmare

Google also admits Google Home and Google Home Mini’s have eavesdropped on users. Of course the tech firm call this a glitch, after a reporter discovered the practice.

When it comes to location data, Google confirmed the practice to Quartz — cell tower addresses were collected by the same system that Android uses to manage push notifications and messages. When private data is how you monetize users, and Google is the major digital advertizer, each new story like this that, is yet another nail in the coffin, and breaks plus diminishes my trust as a consumer, in the Alphabet ecosystem and the Google brand.

The Race to Map out your Real Life Journey

Google has built what amounts to “always on” services with no guarantee private info of users is not being exploited. Google Maps and Google Home would be great, if they were seamless but for real life interactions and building actual community, Facebook Local might be way more valuable for the end user. For young people, “Facebook Events” are one of the few useful features of the legacy Facebook app left, and the new Facebook Local app is the answer. Snap Inc. has its own iteration of Google Maps, called Snap Map, that with reviews, bookings and transportation built into it, might turn out to be even more useful.

While I can admit they are trying to make Google Maps smarter, these privacy infringements are pretty serious. Repeated offenses have shown they don’t take it very seriously.

Google and Facebook Systematically Killing Privacy

If the duopoly of digital advertizing had their way, there would be no such thing as privacy, and we’re coming quickly to such a world. The entire strategy of these companies aren’t really interested in creating user-centric experiences, but how to profit from the data of users.

A stark difference to Amazon, who bases their entire core business model on being customer-centric and then putting their profits back into the company. Which business model do you suppose wins? Cheating the user out of their own data, isn’t exactly a model for being consumer-centric.

What If there’s No Kill Switch for Privacy

You see, what’s controversial about this news is what if you actively turn off location services, haven’t used any apps, and haven’t even inserted a carrier SIM card? So even with if you take all of those precautions, phones running Android software still gather data about your location and send it back to Google when they’re connected to the internet.

There’s literally no off-switch. Google doesn’t care what your preferences really are, and that’s concerning. You can’t make this stuff up!

Google, the unit of Alphabet behind Android, has access to data about individuals’ locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy.

It’s like Snowden coming back from Russia, you don’t need a social credit system (Black Mirror S3 E1), when Facebook and Google are probably building it already.

This is because for these companies, being profitable is more important than the consumer, the end-user, and the actual customer experience. That’s a dangerous precedent for what the future of the internet and predictive analytics will become in the history of consumer privacy and human rights of the individual.

If Apple is damaging its brand via lateness, glitches and bugs and a faulty iPhone X that costs $375 to build and is being sold for 4x that, Google’s many blunders in privacy shows it just doesn’t respect the end user. Google is a data company that desperately wants to have a leg up in Artificial Intelligence, but what lengths will it go to?

The privacy implications of the covert location-sharing practice are plain, Google is like the NSA of all data, even as it’s becoming less relevant over time due to our increasing habit of discovering things via Alexa voice at home and shopping directly on Amazon. In a post website and post app world, what exactly even happens to Google?

We’ve known for the better part of a decade of how aggressively Google Chrome and other devices vacuum up data about users, and the extent of their data-whoring (notice I didn’t even say hoarding).

One day (not so long from now I might add) all that will be left of the Google ecosystem will be YouTube, just as all that will be left of Facebook’s addictive citizen harming ecosystem, might be WhatsApp. But Google doesn’t need friends, it is after all the advertising, search and data monopoly of the western world, for now.

My Google Home feels a bit defensive and gives me the usual line about Privacy when I ask it about why it spies on my location.

It turns out, you can turn off location services, but you can’t turn off Google, how convenient is that for a company that’s worth $743. Bn. Google, don’t let it go to your head. You might be listening to me (at all times), but I have my eyes on you, too.

Hey Google, I don’t trust you with my private information. And STOP hypnotizing our toddlers with creepy YouTube videos. I’ll leave you with this quote from the horse’s mouth:

When you use Google services, we may collect and process information about your actual location. We use various technologies to determine location, including IP address, GPS, and other sensors that may, for example, provide Google with information on nearby devices, Wi-Fi access points and cell towers.
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