Privacy: Why “googling it” Isn’t as Simple as it Sounds

Addressing the missing terms and services of Google search

Whether its googling pictures of cats or searching methods on how to communicate with ISIS your search history is being tracked.

Although Google search is a web browser it’s no big secret that it stores users searches even after they delete their web history/cookies.

When you sign up for social media platforms like snapchat, Instagram and Facebook you are aware of the personal information you are giving away in order to create a profile. However, when you type something into Google you exchange personal information in turn for an instant result. Although this information may not be as explicit as your address, it is an extension of our identities that will forever exist on the internet- and there’s no warning.

Google holds approximately 10–15 exabyte’s of data in server farms which translates to 30 million personal computers!

A cooling plant in Googles Georgia data center

Just Because It Doesn’t Cost You Anything Doesn’t Mean It’s Free

The information users provide through google search filters searches based on personal interest. Together google works with various companies to cater advertisements towards specific users and make profit.

What happens when you click search: https://www.google.ca/insidesearch/howsearchworks/thestory/

Even though users are uninformed that what they search is tracked, a privacy policy does exist outlining what is done with the information that is stored.

Google Privacy Policy: https://www.google.com/policies/privacy/

Google shares personal information for reasons involving the law and external collaboration. Personal information is made accessible under circumstances that meet certain regulations, legal requirements or government demand including investigations on violations of user privacy. This data is also shared with trusted associates to record information in compliance with Googles security policies. Finally, non-personally identifiable information can also be shared publically to reveal internet usage trends.

However, users have the ability to stop google from tracking their searches by turning the tracking setting off in the activity controls page. Still, it cannot be validated whether or not what you search actually stops being stored.

In addition, Canada uses Google analytics to examine data regarding internet usage.

When a user requests a Canada.ca web page the IP address, time and date, browser and websites/searches are collected. However, by using the Google Analytics Opt-Out Browser Add- On users can protect themselves from being tracked.

As internet technology grows and becomes more accessible, individual searches become less secure and more valuable to private companies as well as the government. Monitoring user activity is becoming easier and less voluntary through the use of social media platforms.

So, if someone is able to view the activities you participate in and the sites you visit,

along with your location and personal information, they potentially have the power to control your future. This raises the question of how powerful companies like Google are on an international scale, as they have the ability to compile and alter search results that are received by users.

Thanks for reading ☺

Kat

Sources

Caddy, B, (2016). Google Tracks Everything You Do: here’s how to delete it. Wired.

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/google-history-search-tracking-data-how-to-delete

Carson, C. (2014). How Much Data Does Google Store. Circus Insight.

https://www.cirrusinsight.com/blog/much-data-google-store

Government of Canada (2016). Privacy. Government of Canada.

https://www.canada.ca/en/transparency/privacy.html

Levy, S. (2012). Wired. Google Throws Open Doors to its Top Secret Data Center.

https://www.wired.com/2012/10/ff-inside-google-data-center/

Image 1:

http://publiclibrariesonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/google-485611_1280-1280x640.png

Image 2:

https://www.wired.com/wp-content/uploads/blogs/wiredenterprise/wp-content/uploads//2012/10/ff_googleinfrastructure_large.jpg

Image 3:

https://theta360.com/en/google/img/google_mv.png

Image 4: http://www.commondreams.org/sites/default/files/styles/cd_large/public/headlines/internet_privacy.jpg?itok=HBCYfQl_

Like what you read? Give Melissa, Kyle, Kat a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.