What google knows about me? – The illusion of Privacy Control

What google knows about me? Before you think that you already have an idea about this, just hold that thought and read on.

what Google knows about me

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There is lot of confusion regarding privacy in digital arena. While many people think that it is just a sham and over-hyped topic, there are also people who are worried sick about data privacy risks.

Regardless of which category you belong to, it is wise to know what google knows about you. Don’t you agree? Hence, this blog post!

Privacy protection

The Promise of Privacy Control

Every tech giant promises that ‘YOU‘ are in control of your data. They also have lot of privacy settings to show you. However, I for one, was shocked to know the in-depth data storage policies of Google.

I always thought that Google just stores ‘some’ limited info on me that can be used for better targeting and hence, relavant advertisements. Nevertheless, the ‘syncing’ features across multiple devices is what made it so ‘useful’ to me.

Honestly, free loaders like you and me (using all Google cloud services for free) – really don’t have a say in choosing how much google knows about us? 😂

Regardless of the reason to retain personal-data and fact on how much google knows about you, it can be very futile in long term if left unchecked.

The charity that we’ve taken from these tech-giants may cost us big time over long run.

– Concerned User

Let me get straight to things that google knows about us.

Head over to Google’s Data & Personalization page to start with your due-diligence.

Next, Scroll down to Activity Controls –> You’ll see list of Activities that are being tracked. Go inside each of them and examine them.

You have an option to ‘pause’ them if you like. Obviously, you’ll have to sacrifice some of Google’s services if you choose to do so.

Google activity settings

My Classification of stuffs that google knows about me:

The OK StuffsThe Creepy Stuffs
Device InfoLocation History – All the places you’ve been
Youtube Watch historyWeb & App Activity – Everything you were looking at
Search HistoryRandom Voice & Audio Activity

Apart from all these, there are data elements that are stored which you cannot access directly from Privacy Controls.

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Did you know that Google reads all of your online shopping invoices in Gmail and stores them?

Online shopping & Purchase history from your Gmail!. Go to this link and check it out:- https://myaccount.google.com/purchases

GMAIL Confirmations:- https://myaccount.google.com/u/0/purchases?pageId=none

You cannot bulk-delete everything at once but you can delete individually assuming that Google hasn’t taken a backup of this! ðŸĪŠ

Among all the different kind of data that Google stores, below are some red flags according to me!

  • Your android device configuration service
  • Complete Android activity – Which app did you open, When and What did you do in that etc.
  • Chrome browser – Browsing history, Bookmarks and other settings
  • Contacts
  • My Activity:- Along with image and Audio attachments
  • Purchase and Reservation

Should I really bother about how much google knows about me?

The inclination of all tech-giants is towards personalization to provide uniform experience and Ad/Offer relevancy. This is expected and attributed to the exponential growth of Digital world. Companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft have been scrutinized multiple times over the last few years.

There is lot of ignorance as well as ‘grey areas‘ in privacy. Especially regarding digital marketing, advertisement and product personalization.

Internet Bubble

Increase in usage of internet and digital platforms should ideally have brought increase in awareness of privacy. However, that is not the case. People really need to know about the risks in exposing their personal information online.

Just imagine one ‘evil genius’ or ‘heavily trained code-cracker’ creates a backdoor to access these data and sells them to people who hate you for some reason, I think you can imagine all sort of horror stories after that and more.

Google privacy illusion

What you see in this post are only what Google shares publicly with you. However, do you have any idea what it stores without sharing it to you? Even the Google employees may not be aware.

Below are just some sample ‘evil’ ideas: ðŸ‘đ

  • You receive your bank balance alerts, transaction alerts etc on your gmail. Which obviously is read and stored. – What are the risks if someone knows your liquid-cash flow or your financial worth?
  • Your purchase history shows that you have a kid of certain age. – What are the risks if an insane hater knows that?
  • All of your location history is stored. In other words, it shows the most probable locations of your home, office and loved ones – What all can someone do with that info?
  • Your web/search history usually shows what you are up to lately. Are you trying to buy a new vehicle, a new gadget, to get loan, seeking solution to your problem…. – How easy will it be to lure you or take advantage of this info?

Relax… .Relax… it is a bit of overkill even by ‘criminal’ standards. However, that is only for today. We don’t know how future is going to be.

My concern: One day or the other, all these data will be handed over to AI and whoever controls that AI engine will have full potential to monetize your personal data and use it as they see fit.

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Therefore, we should imagine the implications, and take preventive measures.

BONUS: How to download (export) everything that Google knows about me?

Head over to:- https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout?pli=1

Select all the types of ‘data’ – TIP:- Deselect google photos and Gmail because it is obvious and to reduce the size of download.

Click on ‘Next’ button and follow the instructions. Choose the archive format and click on Create archive.

Google privacy data pull
Google knows about you_Creepy

You will have to wait for some time and you’ll receive an email with instructions to download the archive. What was surprising to me was that even after excluding images, videos and emails, Google had about 789 MB of my 10 years of data! 🙂

After the dawn of Windows10Microsoft also knows plenty of stuffs about you.

I’ll write another post outlining those in the near future!

Meanwhile, awareness about privacy should reach non-tech savvy people.So, sharing this article may help a lot of people to understand about privacy and what google knows about them.

Cheers!

Know more about Digital Marketing:- https://digilitica.com//digital-marketing/basics-of-digital-marketing/

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  1. […] only amazon, but even Google saves our online purchase history from Gmail invoices with spend details but doesn’t give an option to download […]

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