In our everyday life, it takes us by surprise when a stranger knows our name while we don’t know anything about them. Ever wondered what it would be like if someone just knocked at your door one day and tells you your name, address (obviously that’s where he is standing), workplace, birthdate, and interests and hobbies. It would also be more astonishing if he knew the music you listen to, the videos you have watched, the sites you surfed, the total number of your emails, the last time you logged in, the number of tabs open that time, your relatives and their actions. No less than your biodata indeed!
Strange, isn’t it? Well, Google does all that for you. The platform records whatever activity you conduct when you log in. To prove its credibility, it claims to serve you better. In 2009, Google put forward a transparency tool called “Dashboard”. This gives you the entire data google has about you in a single window.
Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology issued a statement explaining India’s current laws on privacy and the government’s stand on the issue. The important part:
- Rectification of conflict between Google, a US-based Company and the European Directive on Data Protection is not within the purview of the Government of India.
As explained in the statement, the 2011 amendment of the IT Act of 2000 directs companies to protect private information and clearly disclose their policies on how the information will be used. Since Google has done this, the government does not need to intervene. Google’s use and/or abuse of user information for targeting ads and knowing their users’ behaviour is not new. And the government has better things to do than go after Google when nothing can be done. [i]
Google uses this data to manage its Ad Sense better. And companies would willingly pay a huge amount of money for the data. To get a glimpse of this, one can easily check the ad settings of their profile by logging in. Ad Settings shows your gender, age, and interests which companies use for their profit.
In 2014, Verge studied the accuracy of Google profiles and the results beyond any expectations. Google could predict accurately to an extent of 50% of a person’s real biodata. For example, The “Ok Google” feature helps Google maintain your voice patterns. Google uses GPS activators to study and track: your home, workplace, kilometres you travel in a day, your fitness level, and your gym place based on the time you spend at these places. Google Chrome maintains your web browser history, giving it a better insight into who you are. In addition, integrating Google into your own smartphone makes the web browser data more accurate.
As rightly put, what goes on in the virtual world stays in the virtual world. There is no way you can stop Google from tracking you in the virtual world. While Google uses all this data to serve people better and to improve their experience, this can often create problems. Consequently, these problems led to Europe introducing the “Right to be forgotten,” which will be discussed in detail soon. People are warier about Google keeping their data rather any other person in the real world.
Although there are ways of barring the use of google and its applications, a question plagues our minds: With Google at the height of its IT renaissance, is it still possible?