Google is the most popular search engine on the planet, right? Yes, it is but it is much more than a search engine company; it’s moved on to become a very big tracking company.

This is the nature of commercial endeavour; companies grow and thrive, some sink and others get eaten up by bigger outfits. But with Google and its data tracking we are in new territory that is pretty much uncharted and also unregulated.

This isn’t a criticism of Google, far from it. It’s standard practise for lots of companies but sometimes it’s instructive to pull back the curtains and see what’s going on behind the scenes.
  • Google keeps your search history forever but this is just the shallow end of a very deep pool of data it collects on people. 
  • Google trackers have been found on 75% of the top one million websites in its bid to become the tracking, data chomping giant of the digital universe. 
  • Google runs most of the ads you see across the internet and on apps. 
  • Even if you use Android then every place you have been is recorded and stored via Google Location Services. 
  • It also knows how often you use your apps, when you use them, where you use them and who you interact with via your apps. 
  • It also tracks your text messages and even your photos, though you may have deleted some of them. 
  • If you use Google Home, a live recording of everything you ever said to your device is stored.

It does more too but we there’s enough here to help you understand how deep and pervasive data gathering is.

But why does Google want all this data?
  • It can build a robust profile of you in such a way that it often knows more about you than you know about yourself. 
  • Google then uses your personal profile to sell ads, not only on its own search engine but also on over three million websites and apps.

I’ve got nothing to hide

Many of us shrug our shoulders and say: “I’ve got nothing to hide.” But would you like someone following you into your bathroom, or have a stranger come into your home to see what you buy and eat?  

Mass scale digital data hoovering is effectively the same thing. 

But these privacy breaches also have implications that run much deeper:
  • Privacy is about control over your own information.
  • Is it right that people profit from your data without your consent or participation?
  • The use of your data leads to ad manipulation, discrimination, fraud and identity theft.
  • Wrongfully used, user data can lead to polarisation and social manipulation, think of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
  • Privacy is essential to democracy and your voting rights.

However, there are steps you can take to reclaim your data privacy.

Manage your Google web and app activity

Your web and app activity includes searches through Google, Maps and Play. Google can also see your purchases, payments, subscription services and reservations for hotels, cars and airline tickets as well as subscription services such as for Tube or Google Photos, a Google Music payment or apps you bought from the Google Play store

You can actually pause of this activity from being recorded and delete anything that has been saved especially private information.
  • Visit https://myaccount.google.com/.
  • Select Data & Personalization.
  • Tap or click Manage your activity controls.
  • From here, you can turn off and delete activity that is being saved to Google.

BullGuard VPN

BullGuard VPN (virtual private network) provides military grade encryption and bulletproof protection for your data. Your digital footprints can’t be identified and your data can’t be hacked.

In short, no one can snoop on your communications and you can access the internet with complete privacy from anywhere in the world. BullGuard VPN also keeps you safe on public Wi-Fi which is notoriously insecure. In short you gain internet freedom and security and absolute data privacy.