How does Google collect data on you?

In the midst of elections and political movements being influenced by data and analytics, people are wondering how much personal data the likes of Facebook, Google and Amazon actually have on them? It isn’t just your web history and age that these goliaths store on their servers, it’s in fact a whole lot more.

Google was the founding father of data collection and below is just a few of the products it has and uses to gather information on you and sell it off to advertisers.

Google Search

Google started as a search engine whose sole purpose was helping you find information, services and business. All in all an extremely helpful product. The bi-product of this is Google collects all these searches you make, It knows what you look for, when you look for it, and how often. And from here it knows what websites you are most likely to engage with.

Gmail

After Google Search, Gmail was created, one of the most widely used email services in the world. Gmail is a free service where the only thing Google requires in return for using it’s product is all of your data. In essence Google scans all of your emails looking for key sentences and words. Ultimately now Google knows who you talk too, what you talk to them about, and how often. 

Google Maps, Street View and Satellite

After Google created Search and Gmail, it turned its attention to another one of its key and more powerful products - Maps. With this GPS based application, it now catches data on where you go and when, also how often, and how you get there. Essentially it knows where you live, work and what grocery store you shop at weekly.

Then Google started driving cars down everyone's streets and took photos of where you live naming it ‘Street View’. This was then taken a step further and and they were allowed to put satellites in the sky creating ‘Google Satellite’ which gathers info on what the top of your house and property looks like. 

Google Glass

After taking photos of your house, a product named Google Glass was created essentially taking photos of the inside your house and everything else you see. Google now had the ability to see where you live, and everything else you saw. Fortunately soon after its release, this was discontinued. 

Web History

Google records your personal web history so it knows what you look at, when, how often and the trends that you have while browsing online. Contrary to what you may believe, you will have web browsing habits, and Google knows what these are better than you do.

So Google has all this data on you, what do they do with it? 

In short, Google owns a digital version of you as a person. And this version of you sits inside their servers and systems until it then gets sold off to advertisers who in turn then target you with ads. If Google knows what you want and are interested in, it's a compelling offer for clever advertisers to then buy this product and sell you it.

Most people are okay with this because it’s the trade off for getting to use the majority of Google’s services for free. Where the line becomes blurry is if insurance companies and banks get ahold of your data which they can use to see how good of a potential customer you may be.

Summary

You can download the data Google has on you here, because it is in fact yours. You’ll be surprised at how much data and products Google has used to capture information on you.

Published by Alex Jordan