We all value our privacy. Of course, who wants to get all their garbage exposed for the entire world to know? But sorry to burst your bubble because you have been spied on for a long time now without you knowing. Sorry to break the news to you if you don’t know about it yet. But can you help it if you just love the web? It almost has all the answers you are looking for and best of all, you can have it in an instant. Google Chrome is perhaps the best search engine there is mainly because Google has crafted various related services that make life a breeze and it’s so easy to use too. It contains millions of articles and links that people may find useful in their daily lives.
Unfortunately, this beloved browser is hiding a deep dark secret. It’s been spying on us all along. For the past 18 years that Google has been around, it has taken note of all your Google searches – yes, all. It remembers all the things you’ve asked Google for, even those naughty questions you are too embarrassed to ask another person, even to a doctor. It’s really scary to have all your deepest darkest secrets archived by no other than a tech giant like Google who won’t have second thoughts of selling it to third parties if the price is right.
During the hoo-ha, one of the spooks with whom I discussed Snowden’s revelations waxed indignant about our coverage of the story. What bugged him (pardon the pun) was the unfairness of having state agencies pilloried, while firms such as Google and Facebook, which, in his opinion, conducted much more intensive surveillance than the NSA or GCHQ, got off scot free. His argument was that he and his colleagues were at least subject to some degree of democratic oversight, but the companies, whose business model is essentially “surveillance capitalism”, were entirely unregulated.
He was right. “Surveillance”, as the security expert Bruce Schneier has observed, is the business model of the internet and that is true of both the public and private sectors. Given how central the network has become to our lives, that means our societies have embarked on the greatest uncontrolled experiment in history. Without really thinking about it, we have subjected ourselves to relentless, intrusive, comprehensive surveillance of all our activities and much of our most intimate actions and thoughts. And we have no idea what the long-term implications of this will be for our societies – or for us as citizens.
Although it is quite a common knowledge today that we are being watched online, some are still oblivious to this chilling fact. Billions type in questions on Google on a daily basis. The same can be said for the billions of Facebook users who log in daily to their SNS accounts. All your queries, likes, comments, posts, etc. all leave a digital footprint that people inside the organization can use to their advantage, whether to be sold to third-party businesses for instance or even tapped by the government for information during disasters or terror attacks.
Google claims it wants to help you in every way possible. They are a search engine, a smart thermostat, a map, a video site, a place to create content and socialize and much more.
The list goes on and on with what they do and offer based on their many acquisitions.
What they don’t tell you in any way obvious, is that they scan every slice of Google that you use. All that information . . . becomes part of your “permanent record.” They argue it’s useful in order to customize your experience.
Google is doing everything they can to subvert your right to be forgotten. They seem to know literally everything you’re doing and what the temperature in your house is.
Remember, this is the same Google that was fined millions of dollars by several different countries when they literally stole IP addresses and WiFi passwords from citizens’ homes as they drove by in their quest to map the world. By this time we are all exhausted by the mind-numbing targeted ads and content we receive. Who is that really useful to? To them of course.
In reality, spying has been a part of Google’s plan all along. It has worked like a data vacuum alongside Facebook and many others in compiling personal data and browsing habits of consumers either to be sold to data brokers, businesses, and even the government for a profit. Every single one of your searches is added to your permanent online dossier and the list just adds up as you continue to use these platforms today, tomorrow, and in the future.
The only way to fight this practice is to walk away from it all. But then, can you really do it in a world that is quickly becoming digital in all aspects as the days go by. Unless you decide to live off the grid, you need these modern conveniences as you communicate with people and basically survive. It’s a tough call, really. Your best recourse is to limit the amount of personal information you share online and never forget that you are being watched since studies show that when people know they are being observed, their behaviors change and becomes more calculated leaving you less room to make careless mistakes.