I am a huge Google advocate. I love their products so much that I use almost every one of them on a fairly regular basis. Much of my computer based productivity is performed online via Google’s offerings. In fact, based on my excessive use, I think Google may know almost as much about me as I do. I’m surely not the only G freak out there, because most of my friends and colleagues have an @gmail.com email address too… 😉 something I’d like to think I had something to do with.
A vast number of articles have been written on the topic of Google’s privacy policies. I know because I’ve probably read most of them. Many of these articles discuss the specifics how Google stores and secures their user’s personal information. Sure, I like to know that my personal data is secure… But have you ever actually compiled a detailed list of your personal information that Google does know? I just did, and it’s slightly startling!
Here are 16 things Google knows about me and how they acquired the info:
- My Full Name – It’s in my Gmail headers and a requirement on various Google service signup forms.
- My Physical Street Address – It could easily be pulled from the various Google Maps search queries I’ve performed. They could also get it from my Google Adsense or Checkout accounts.
- My Phone Number – Gmail used to require a cell phone number for signup verification. It’s also in my Adsense and Checkout accounts.
- When I’m Online – Since iGoogle is my homepage, I guess they know every time I open my web browser.
- My Latest IP Address – Based on the previous point, I guess they know every time my IP address changes too.
- My Popular Interests – My Google Reader and Google Bookmarks is chock full of my favorite news sources, articles, blogs, RSS feeds, online stores, etc. Toss in my YouTube habits for good measure.
- Every Website I Visit – Google is the portal to almost everything I see online. I also use Google Web History and Google Toolbar for convenience purposes and Page Rank info respectively.
- My Daily “To Do” List – I usually keep this updated in Google Notebook.
- My Schedule – Most of my major appointments and future tasks are entered in Google Calendar.
- Who I Know – Even if they aren’t reading my email, they have every entry in my Gmail Contacts, many of whom are Gmail users as well.
- What I Say – Between Gmail and Google Talk, let’s just say Google has clear documentation of what’s on my mind.
- What Stocks I Own – I typically uses Yahoo Finance, but I do have my stock portfolio setup in Google Finance as well because some of the tools are better.
- My Bank Account and Routing Number – Associated with my Google Adsense account.
- Everything About My Blog – Google Analytics tracks the stats for my blog and Google Webmaster Tools hosts my XML sitemap. So they know what I’m publishing, how popular it is, and who’s reading it.
- What I Look Like – As you can see, I have a photo gallery on my blog. In addition, I use Google’s Picasa Web Albums.
- Where I Exist Online – This one is obvious. Since they know my full name, email address, online alias, search history, etc., all they need to do is plug that information into their own search database and start cross referencing every other site where I have a visible account.
Now take all the information Google has on me, connect the dots and analyze it. I bet they could tell you more about the historical trends in my life than I could. Here’s to hoping that never happens…
Interesting angle. I bet there’s even more that they could derive. For instance, based on your search history, they probably know if you’re looking to buy a new car or are planning a trip. But to be fair to Google, they aren’t the only ones to know these things. Anyone who extensively uses Yahoo services, for instance, is probably giving up all of this information and more as well.
Also, it’s likely that no entity within Google has access to all of this information. And particularly, one assumes the financial data is protected, so although Google as a company may have all of this data, it’s unlikely that there’s any one person or team within Google who could aggregate it all and use it. We have, however, seen portions of this data be used together and will continue to see it used more over time — notably with personalized search.
Google knows what color your underwear are. Honestly tho. Especially if you have a Google account that you are logged into during search. Just like vanessa mentioned, they know if you’re planning a trip, looking to sell your dog, dieting, looking up porn. Google knows all. It’s all logged. We’re all just another statistic to build Google’s all mighty algorithm.
Isn’t it neat?
But this doesn’t just happen online. I mean when you go to Vegas and have player cards, they track you around that city. Credit card companies know way too much about you and your family. It’s all in databases.
Just tattoo my SSN on my neck, chip me, and get it over with.
And when they give you your Google phone (equipped with the obligatory gps) they will know where you are, what local advertisers to solicit you with, who you call, how long you talk and likely, what you said. This has not been announced or discussed before, but think about it…think how specifically they would be able to target you with advertisements if their voice recognition tools could listen for keywords and evaluate what you said. And what’s to keep them from logging your phone calls like they log your Google Talk conversations ?
If we all follow the Google Pied Piper down this road, consider ourselves chipped.
NY SEO says
I have been getting more and more frightened of Google since the whole China debacle. My entire life is tied to them and being able to manipulate their index is my livelihood. When you added up all of the things they have on us it really seems scary. In my opinion, they are following the steps of IBM and Microsoft, and becoming bureaucratic money-loving corporations that steamroll little guys. And the quality of products and services they stick us with degrades over time.
I am praying it does not pan out this way though….
Oh Boy says
People, people if you give all your personal information to this Moloch, you can blame only yourselves.
At least using Google is voluntary. Over here the UK government want to impose compulsory ID Cards and a vast National Identity Register that will make Google look positively ignorant.
el Cukro says
The question is – does Google care?
I don’t think so…
All of you have made some truly insightful points. Thanks for sharing!
@Oh Boy: I just can’t resist the power of the big G. I love their products and would be lost without them. 😉
This is scary, almost like facebook.
Facebook even knows who your real friends are.
Usually when i search google i prefer to be signed out, I dont know if they track me but at least it makes me feel safer, and for adsense they even keep your bank account.
Rab Babby says
You have no need of either the interweb, or Google to survive on this planet. Don’t forget that.
What is the best way to use Google Notebook as your daily ToDo list? Just use ‘labels’ as ‘Done’ items? Or do you just delete them?
You got it. I delete them when the task is complete.
We make a free will choice when we turn on our computers .Somewhere someone is always watching ,listening and taking notes.Google is just honest about it.
Well that is pretty much the same thing that any webshop knows about you. At least the parts that is important.
You give your full name, address, phone number. I am much more concerned about the data that banks and insurance companies gather.