Google gives you no privacy despite new regulations

  • Written by MarketWatch
  • Published in Economics

My inbox, like yours, is full of GPDR notes from websites I’ve provided my email address to, telling me they “value my privacy” and need me to confirm I want to remain their subscriber — so they can send me even more emails.

Needless to say, I’ve used this opportunity to reduce my inbox clutter, actually following up with less than 5% of those requests.

Unfortunately, that won’t improve my privacy or make me share fewer details online.

A main reason is that I use Alphabet’s GOOG, +3.18%[1] GOOGL, +3.18%[2]  Google products in my daily online interactions. I have a Gmail account, I access YouTube often and own an Android phone. Many of my readers do the same, not realizing we’re sharing with Google and, indirectly, with various advertisers using Google AdWords. Here’s how much the omniscient Google knows about you:

It knows where you’ve been ...

Isn’t it nice when Google Maps can tell you when the next bus is coming, or where the nearest shop is? To provide this kind of information, Google optimizes your location information. Google can provide you with traffic predictions for your daily commute, as well as recommendations based on the places you’ve visited while signed in.

Here’s mine: ...

image So, yeah, I’ve been around Zagreb, Croatia, a lot. Google says these maps are private and not shared with anyone, but if you want to err on the side of safety, feel free to turn this option off by logging into your Google account, clicking this link[3] and toggling the blue switch to off. You’re invisible now, right? It knows what you’ve seen ... ... And I’ve seen a lot of PewDiePie and Linus Tech Tips episodes, as well as plenty of cool gadgets and cryptocurrency videos. This is because Google owns YouTube[4] and uses your viewing history to fine-tune its targeted ads. In my case, this means I’m bombarded with cryptocurrency ads all the time. While Google swears it won’t share this information with anyone, and while it allows you to turn this off, I can easily see how this information could be used for political or even criminal profiling if, say, a politician got their hands on it. So go here and flip the switch[5]. Boom. Now YouTube won’t keep track of what kind of silly cat videos you’ve been watching and won’t be able to recommend you even more vids like that. You’re invisible now, right? It knows if you’ve been naughty ... Yes, I’m talking about your Google searches. These are saved for all of the obvious reasons.

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