Following on from the Facebook disclosures one does wonder whom else might be cashing in on knowing what your internet activities, and much else besides, are, and whether such data is being misused.
Who would gain worthwhile advantage from that knowledge or would, or could, on-sell the data to 3rd parties?
You are quite right it is the major tech companies first and foremost, companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple because they can readily obtain your private information and profile because you are subscribed as a customer.
I wonder if you ever checked to see what and how much e.g. Google stores of information about you and your daily activities? New reports actually suggest that Google may actually harvest ten times as much as Facebook.
One such account suggests that the amount and type of data Google collect is to constantly tracking our online movements, and may also be monitoring our physical locations.
That same report contained an incredible amount of data on the subscriber’s web activity, going back over a decade. But perhaps more importantly, Google had also been tracking the user’s real-life movements via his smartphone device or tablet. This included fairly random places he’d frequented, many of the foreign countries and cities he visited, the bars and restaurants he went to while in these countries, the amount of time he spent there, and even the path he took to get there and back.
Another Google user decided to download his own file and found that the company was archiving his data in spite of his browsing in the Incognito mode which is supposed to disallow saving of browsing history.
Please note that Google just like Facebook gathers your details for sale to third-party advertisers and the like. So if you want to stop this information from being shared, you have to go into your account settings and make adjustments. Google’s policy states:
“If other users already have your email, or other information that identifies you, we may show them your publicly visible Google Profile information, such as your name and photo.”
Google’s policy also lists the three major categories of data collection: Things you do; Things you create; and Things that make you “you.”
But you do have the ability to limit this info from getting out. You can turn off location tracking, voice searches, and other features; you can view and edit your preferences; you can adjust your public profile, and you can download Google’s data hoard to see what they see.
You can go a bit further and delete all of your data from not only Google, but also a variety of other online services.
- Go to Deseat.me and sign in with a Gmail address.
- Look down the list of synced accounts and decide which you want to delete and which you want to keep.
- Click the button.
Have you regained your private life now and will it stop further unwanted mining by all and sundry? Sadly, no. But now that Facebook testifies before the US Congress, our attention has at least been drawn to some of the consequences of a technocracy that privatizes surveillance.
It may lead to some tightening of what can and cannot be mined by these big corporations and ultimately the results will be an indication of the level of our complacency on these matters.
The level of interference in our lives through the use of internet has shown us both the good and the bad sides of its availability and if we handle it sensibly and intelligently we have much to enjoy as long as we keep ourselves well-informed, which thanks to Kapiti SeniorNet we have the opportunity to do.