Let’s take a day out of our lives. We wake up, go to the toilet, take a bath, have breakfast, get ready for work, commute to work, get exhausted, come back, have dinner, do some unprotective tasks before bed, and finally go to sleep.
Now, think how many times Google has its presence in our day. Almost, all the time. It tracks everything from what we search and watch on YouTube to all the apps used by us.
Take weekends into considering and Google has an eye on your workouts, the restaurants you frequent, where do you shop, and places you hang out. Whenever I visit someplace, it doesn’t take much time to get notifications from Google.
Just open the timeline feature in Google Maps, and you will realize that the company has tracked our every move. A report published last year revealed that Google tracks people even when the location services are turned off on the device. They might not be far away from the day they could monitor our pooping habits.
Google can do this for most of its users. And considering the number of daily active users it has, the data collection would be staggering, beyond the imagination of many of us.
According to the math done by Daily Mail on Sunday, if the amount of data Google collects per user is printed on A4-sized pages and piled up, it would cross your height within a few days.
Their reporter found that his internet history over the past 12 months was around 569,555 pages. When piled up, it would be 189ft, taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Even if we consider 15 days, it will reach 7ft 9in. Roughly, that would be 23,731 pages.
I have told you this earlier when I download my Google data — it took around 9GB of space on my hard drive. That’s not what you’d expect when Facebook is under fire for data collection. The laughable moment comes when you realize their data dump was a little more than 100MB.
However, the size of the Google data dump is so big because it includes photos and videos. Other than that, you can find stuff like search results, location history, contacts, calendar, Google Fit data, My Activity, etc.
But one starts to have concerns when the data collection also includes what you browsed through the so-called “incognito mode.” A web developer Dylan Curran was shocked to see his the incognito mode history in the data dump. He even found an old CV he had deleted from his Google Drive storage.
So much data collection? What for?
It’s a known fact that the massive data collection fuels Google’s advertising business. Google creates advertisement profiles of people to throw personalized ads. The user information could be sold to the highest bidder, given that people already agreed to such policies in the TL;dr terms and conditions.
No doubt Google has given us some unmatched products and technologies over the years. But all of that comes with a harsh reality: our information is traded against the stuff that’s free.
Paying Google isn’t the idea many would consider. In fact, people think their information is so valuable that they should get a cut (or some annual payback) from companies like Google. Well, the thought doesn’t sound wrong when the internet’s beloved company is getting richer by the second, making money off people ‘personal’ data.
Whether people should pay Google or vice versa is one thing, but the important thing is that data (considered the new oil nowadays) gives power to the companies. And that should send chills down the spine. It’s hard to think of the repercussions it may bring.
With increased awareness among the people and government, new laws are being worked out. The companies have to make it more transparent that they’re collecting some information as one uses the service. But it might not be enough for some.
Just like Facebook, Google gives people options to disable the tracking it performs all the time. By turning them off, you can live with the feeling that you’re tracking has been reduced, if not, terminated completely.