INTERNATIONAL - It is been brought to light just after the Facebook data scandal that tech giant Google is also an information hub that could be a security risk and privacy concern according to a report by Mashable.
Google offers a wide range of services and products such as Search, Gmail, Google Maps, Drive, YouTube, DoubleClick, AdWords, Chrome, Android, Chromebook, and Nest etc.
In an interview with Mashable, Electronic Frontier Foundation Senior Staff Attorney, Nate Cardozo said this is the type of data these services of Google collect:
1. Things you search for
2. Websites you visit
3. Videos you watch
4. Ads you click on or tap
5. Your location
6. Device information
7. IP address and cookie data
8. Emails you send and receive on Gmail
9. Contacts you add
10. Calendar events
11. Photos and videos you upload
12. Docs, Sheets, and Slides on Drive
13. Name, Email address and password
14. Birthday, Gender, Phone number and Country
Additionally, Google does let you download an archive of all the data it has on you.
Google’s personal data archive download is called Google Takeout.
On Takeout, you can request to see a full or partial archive of all the data you have in Google’s services.
Google also keeps a record of the music you’ve listened to on Play Music, and the phones you’ve linked to your account.
According to reports, when you delete a file from Google Drive, it doesn't get deleted.
Copies of deleted files may still be found in your Google Takeout archive as well as spam and deleted emails through Gmail are also reportedly stored.
Google also keeps track of which sites you’ve accessed from search, and which images you’ve downloaded.
It has also been reported that if you're using an Android smartphone, Google stores every interaction on your device – including voice recordings from Google Assistant.
How can I save my data from the internet?
1. Install an ad-blocker
Start by installing ad blockers on your browser and spend time getting to know your privacy settings. Ad blocker apps will allow users to block ads and opt-out of social media marketing systems.
There are many apps available such as AdBlock Plus, AdAway, Firefox focus, Brave Browser etc.
2. Reduce third-party access
Reducing third party access to your information will help you protect more of your digital activity from Google and Facebook.
3. Use tracker blockers
Trackers refer to apps designed to follow and record what web users are doing as they move from site to site.
You can stop this by adding a tracker blocker.
For example, Firefox also has a built-in tracker blocker, which is now enabled by default in the mobile apps.
4. Make a private search engine your default
To limit what Google knows about you is to switch to using an alternative search engine when you need to look something up on the Internet.
DuckDuckGo which Apple will let you set as the default browser on iOS or Bing, Firefox etc.
Additionally, Be aware of any voice assistants that often default to using Google to look stuff up on the web.
5. Use private browser sessions
All browsers on desktop and mobile now let you open a private window.
While this can be a powerful tool, private sessions don’t make you more invisible.
However, private sessions do erase your cookies every time you close your session.
You can then reopen another private session and nobody can track your data.
6. Disable location services
Can be used as it will prevent services from keeping tabs on where you are all the time.
However, it is an effort changing settings, and won't be able to enjoy the convenience of the service because it won’t be able to automatically customise what it shows you based on your location.
7. Use end-to-end encrypted messengers
End to end encryption means that only the communicating users can read the messages
For example, companies that use end-to-end encryption are unable to hand over texts of their customers' messages to the authorities.
Use a messaging app that does have end-to-end encryption, such as WhatsApp.
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