Google has become the Big Brother we’ve been warned about… your every move is being logged and stored. But why?
You know how when you type words into the all knowing Google search engine and Google kindly finishes the word for you? Well, that’s not because this website is well mannered and can read your mind. The reason Google knows you so well is… because it remembers everything. Yes, everything. While you were clowning around watching cat videos on Youtube and searching for your dream honeymoon destination, Google was watching, waiting, and remembering. When you were searching for brokeback mountain fanny packs, Google is logging it.
But why would Google do this to us? For the same reason any company wants get info about its customers. Sorry, its not because they think you’re swell and want to get to know you better. Companies want your information to sell you stuff. The more a company knows about a person, the more they can tailor their advertising to products which are relevant to your life. For example, my best friend and I put that we were engaged on Facebook just to be funny, Shortly after that, I kept seeing ads in the sidebar for wedding photographers, engagement rings, bridal gowns, you name it (I guess the powers that be can’t decipher irony). Even still, knowing that somewhere out there, every move I made on the internet was being analysed and recorded kinda gave me the creeps.
Google takes this data collecting to a whole new level…
But wait, it doesn’t stop there. Google also knows where you are. Your approximate location is assessed by Google to advertise local business from this address, or from a GPS signal when using a location-enabled Google service (like Google Maps). If you have a Google device, such as an Android Phone, Google knows your hardware model, the operating system version, and your mobile network and phone number. If you have a Google account then there is also a record of your name, age, email address, and photo (if you’ve uploaded one). Anyone getting an Orwellian vibe here?
How Can You Protect Your Privacy?
Clear The Contents Of Your Past
If you are willing to sacrifice a little convenience, and type words in their entirety, you can constantly clear your web history. While logged into your Google account, you can go to your search history page and click on the button labeled “Remove all Web History”. This is like giving Google a shot of amnesia by forcing it to forget your recent browsing history. In order to prevent Google from remembering anything about your search preferences at all, repeat this process several times throughout your searching session.
Maintain Personal Anonymity At All Times
Most browsers have an option where your history files aren’t recorded and cookies are deleted after use, such as when you browse in “incognito” or “private browsing” mode. However, Google passive aggressively discourages users from going completely anonymous. Some services may not function properly while in private browsing, such as Netflix or automatic sign-in. Anonymizers, such as Tor, are software options that defend against network surveillance, location tracking, browsing habits, and forms of traffic analysis.
The Courage To Change The Things You Can
We aren’t subservient peons who must cower in reverence before the all mighty Google. If you feel like this search engine is crossing your boundaries; try a different one! In 2006, Gabriel Weinberg started a search engine called DuckDuckGo. The minimalist search engine does not store any personal information. Your search history is not stored and neither is your computer’s IP address. Change it up! There are other search engines in the sea, ready for you to safely surf on.