As virtually everyone becomes more dependent on technology for communication, business and shopping, the opportunities for abuses of the system become more apparent. Personal data is being collected at an alarming rate, and it appears many device users are either avoiding the issue of privacy or simply not aware of its significance. However, it is a certainty Google and other search engines are cognizant of how valuable collected user data truly is. There are, in fact, a great many people now searching for ways to avoid providing personal data.
Is Google Really All That Bad?
First, it’s important to recognize how pervasive Google’s presence is. Over a billion users now routinely use Google. That is more than use Yahoo, Bing and Baidu combined. With that level of dominance, Google can dictate the direction search engines take. It’s recent algorithm changes have reshaped how search engines work, forcing dramatic alterations in website design parameters. At the same time, Google continues to push the limits of how and where the organization collects user data.
While it may be argued device users could simply opt to use alternative search engines, that is not necessarily a solution. When one entity effectively controls a market segment, competitors are forced to follow suit, adopting similar strategies to remain competitive. That would suggest Yahoo and Bing are likely using similar algorithms to mine user data. There are, obviously, compelling reasons for collecting data. It does, in fact, allow Google to better tailor ads, identify quality matches during searches, and improve their internal efficiencies. However, there is a point where the information collected goes well beyond what is needed to simply power the search engine itself.
What Types of Data Are Collected?
This is where the issues start to take on darker overtones. Google and other search engines track what sites users visit and monitor online buying habits to better provide appropriate search results. However, Google’s monitoring goes well beyond those activities. Google digitally monitors communications, locations, and virtually everything a user does. The word “creepy” continually comes up in articles describing Google’s ability to know what users are going to do even before they do it. Even scarier is the fact the tracking is becoming even more all-encompassing. At what point will users object? That remains to be seen.
As Google rapidly moves into other business categories, its online dominance puts it in a position to effectively take advantage of mined data to influence other aspects of users’ lives. That is, indeed, something users may strongly object to. But, will it be too late? Is Google Evil? While that may be wording it a little strongly, the potential for Google to abuse its power is certainly real.
What You Can Do
In order to keep your information safe, secure, and most of all—private–you should install some basic security measures on your computer. First, ensure that you have an adequate antimalware software tool in order to sweep for keyword and password sniffers. One great program that you can use and that I recommend is Spyhunter 4. This is an excellent anti malware program from A lot of people ask me the question, “Is Spyhunter safe?” and I can assuredly say that it’s an extremely safe and effective program that I’ve actually used myself to remove malware infections from my computer. You can check out this article in order to see how safe it is.
Another great thing to do is to use a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. These can keep your information safe from people who are sniffing wireless networks, especially those that are not secure.