My Need For Google Decreases Each Time My Privacy Feels Threatened

I’ve written before about the growing loss of privacy in our 21st Century lives.

Just about everything we do these days creates data that can be collected by someone. Found on Pixabay.

Now, after reading the Washington Post article Google Now Knows When Its Users Go to the Store to Buy Stuff, I am even more concerned about privacy. Fellow blog readers, you should be too.

In essence, Google is now using credit card data, to combine with the data it has already collected about us, to learn more about our purchases — those made online and and those we purchase without any online connection. The goal, according to Washington Post reporters Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg, is to discover whether Google’s  searches and its advertisements have helped  people decide what to buy — even when a purchase isn’t made online.

The company continues to collect data and learn more and more about people of all ages. That’s creepy. It feels even more creepy when I consider how we use Gmail in my family to share calendars and when I look at the Google Dashboard that keeps track of and shares with me some of the data Google has collect about us.

Most Interesting Quote From the Article

The new credit-card data enables the tech giant to connect these digital trails to real-world purchase records in a far more extensive way than was possible before. But in doing so, Google is yet again treading in territory that consumers may consider too intimate and potentially sensitive.

So here are some steps that I’ve taken to gain a bit more privacy for my family.

I’ve already written about using the browser Duck, Duck Go. I have also turned off a host of location options on my iPhone, turning them on only as I use them — and yes, that’s sometimes a hassle. I no longer use Google Drive apps for word processing and other tasks, unless there is a need to share a document to edit collaboratively with other people.

To learn more I regularly consult Bruce Schneier’s book, Data and Goliath (I wrote about it here.). Also, I recently installed virtual private networks (VPNs) on our iPhones and computers, and I’m even thinking that now may be time to move away from a free Gmail account and once again pay for our email service, especially when it comes to online purchasing or accessing financial and medical information.

I really like Google. Sometimes I use it to search, often I use the maps, and I like that the calendar can be shared with my husband and also easily moves between my laptop and iPhone. I love the way I can set an alert asking Google to keep an eye out for specific topics. However, Google is learning way too much about me, so I’m trying to set limits. Are we sacrificing too much when we get things for free? Perhaps, because when we get to use  digital products for free, we agree to trade-off too much of our personal information.j

You may also want to read the following blog posts:

2 thoughts on “My Need For Google Decreases Each Time My Privacy Feels Threatened

  1. Thank you for this article Marti. There was an article in the New York Times not long ago “How Privacy Became a Commodity for the Rich & Powerful.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/09/magazine/how-privacy-became-a-commodity-for-the-rich-and-powerful.html
    VPN’s, higher end devices (Apple has a more robust data privacy policy than most other operators), paid for services (like email), not to mention the education to know what is happening and how to protect yourself are all caveats of the educated, those with disposable income, and those with the time to care.
    Our eroding privacy (especially in an age of NSA surveillance) is a greater cause for concern than I believe most Americans realize. I also am especially concerned that children are growing up in a world in which we normalize that their information as monetized.
    I have no real solutions, but I share your concerns.

    • Thank you, Jen. I am so glad that you shared this NY Times article. It got me thinking about the privacy issues — again — but I neglected to include it. I encourage everyone to add the article to their privacy reading lists. Also your comments about privacy are spot on and insightful.

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