Today, a new privacy setting went active for anyone who has Google accounts. I wish I had paid a bit more attention to this before it actually happened, but last night I did some investigation and learned a lot, and was able to delete my history and turn off this “data mining” that Google wants to do. So, with this post, I’m going to show you how to turn it off yourself.
But before I do that, you might ask, “Why do we need to turn this off? What’s so wrong with Google keeping track of everything? They say it will help make our Internet experience better!” Well, I guess, in all honesty, you don’t need to do this. But I think it’s wise. For multiple reasons. If Google only does what they say they’re going to be doing with this information, then maybe everything will be okay. And even if we can trust Google (which I’m not sure we can, given how they were found to be exploiting holes in certain browsers to unethically mine data when that was specifically not supposed to be allowed), the real question comes when you start to think of identity theft issues: What happens if someone get access to all this information about you? Or, even worse, what happens if someone assumes your identity online and does illegal things in your name? I can easily imagine a case, like these, where someone hacks into your network, and uses your google accounts to surf and download illegal things, and then you take the fall for it. That scares me more than just about anything, really.
(And as a side note, if you aren’t locking down your wireless internet, you at risk for serious trouble, in my opinion. For more information on encrypting your wi-fi network, this is a good article to start with. But I think it best to go even further than that, and use MAC address filtering.)
Another part of this is due process. The government is pushing hard to get access to our digital information as well. You’ve probably heard a little bit about that in the news. But it’s a big issue. Especially surrounding this idea of warrants. Does a police officer have to get a warrant to get access to your digital information, even if it’s on Twitter, which is a public digital domain? So what about the information that is on your computer? Is that private? Probably. But what about the saved information that Google is keeping that you used on your personal computer? Ahhh, now the lines are getting fuzzy…