There’s a new wave of privacy awareness in the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. People are suddenly realizing the amount of data “free” services collect and its implications. To spread awareness and help you take control of your data, today we’ll be taking a look at Google and its various services.
Every place you have been to (with GPS turned on), since you first used Google on your portable device, is stored by Google. This includes the routes you took, how long it took you to go somewhere and even the date and time of your journey.
Your trips to landmarks and other cities are also actively stored and you can even view data related to trips that you made years ago, even the forgettable ones.
Here is my location data in Islamabad. It shows the places I’ve been to recently and highlights places I usually visit.
You can check your own location data using Google Timeline.
Google uses data from all applications you use to create a “profile” for you. That means, it knows how many apps you have on your smartphone, which ones you use often when you use them, and who you use them to interact with.
This helps them know when you go to sleep and of course, who you interact with before sleeping, for example.
To check your application data, click this link: Google MyAccount
Google also has a complete list of your interests and creates your advertisement profile based on your gender, location, age, relationship status, and even recent searches.
This profile is generated from either data compiled from Google Services (Google Search and YouTube) or 2 million+ websites that partner with Google to collect your data.
For example, if you watched a YouTube video related to car repair, Google will note that and start showing you car-related advertisements and vice versa.
You can check your advertisement profile here: Google Ads
Things You’ve Searched And Deleted
All of your searches and history is compiled across all the devices you use and stored in one place. Even if you deleted a browsing session or phone history from one of your device, it could still be saved somewhere in another device.
Remember that this history not only includes Google searches, it also includes data from other services such as YouTube. So whatever kind of videos you watch or things you search for, Google is able to determine your interests and mood depending on your history
Check your search data here: Google MyActivity
Use this link to check your YouTube history: YouTube Feed
Millions of Word Documents
Google has a “takeout” feature which allows you to download an archive containing all of the data which Google has stored related to you. The archive can include data from any Google service of your choosing, with a total of 32 different services. Here are some of these services:
- Google +,
- My Activity,
- Google Photos,
- Google Search and many more.
These contain pretty much everything on you, Google Drive files contain your personal data and pictures, Google Mail has all your transactions and dealings with businesses, Calendar stores all of your events, My Activity has all of your search history, Chrome monitors every browsing session, Maps tracks your every movement, Google Photos has all of the pictures you took and is also capable of facial recognition, Keep contains all of your notes and shopping lists, Contacts has phone numbers and pictures of all the people you talk to, and so on.
My takeout archive took more than 30 minutes to prepare and had a size of 5 GB – 5 GB of data which is mostly just text. It translates to around 3 million Word documents, imagine that.
You can get your takeout archive from this link: Google Takeout
Do you think Google can be trusted with this much personal data? Leave your opinion and feedback on this article below.