Starting March 1, Google will track everything you do across all of its products. One policy, one Google experience. All of the data collected will be combined and stored under your one universal real identity. Google has been de-anonymizing us for years, even going so far as to making real names mandatory for Google+ (though this rule just got ‘relaxed’ a bit).
They tied Gmail and Google+ accounts together and just last week changed the account sign-up process. Before you just needed some basic data to get yourself a shiny new Gmail address. Now if you want Gmail, you have to get Google+ too. Maybe enrollment wasn’t picking up as quickly as Google would like?
The data Google will track isn’t just from the web searches you make. It includes what you watch on YouTube, the locations you look up with Maps, the content in your emails, and anything you post or share on Google+.
For those of you with Android phones (and there are a lot!), your OS is made by Google. That means even more of your activities can be tracked. We do everything with our phones!
Google explains its latest move as being “all for you” though. The more it knows about you, the more it can help you. More accurate searches, location based reminders and targeted ads.
“We can make search better—figuring out what you really mean when you type in Apple, Jaguar or Pink. We can provide more relevant ads too. For example, it’s January, but maybe you’re not a gym person, so fitness ads aren’t that useful to you. We can provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day.”
Sounds great, but that doesn’t change the fact that Google has that much private data about me stored in a database. What if Google got hacked? Bad news. Very bad news.
Many of us bought into Google because we thought we’d be respected as users. For a long time this held true. With these latest moves, does the “don’t be evil” mantra still apply? On the bright side, Facebook doesn’t seem so bad anymore does it?