See (at Least Some) of the Data Google Collects About You

September 10, 2019

This SGT Report headline may not be strictly true, but the write-up is interesting nevertheless. They claim, “Google’s File on You is 10 Times Bigger than Facebook’s—Here’s How to View It.” Keep in mind that SGT Report can publish some interesting and often difficult to verify information.

The article extrapolates its figure from the experience of one developer:

“Curious about just how much of his data Google had, web developer Dylan Curran says he downloaded his Google data file, which is offered by the company in a hub called ‘My Account.’ This hub was created in 2015, along with a tool called ‘My Activity.’ The report issued is similar to the one Facebook delivers to its users upon request. Whether or not these reports are comprehensive is still up in the air, but Curran says his was 5.5 GB, which is almost ten times larger than the one Facebook offered him. The amount and type of data in his file, Mr. Curran says, suggests Google is not only constantly tracking our online movements but may also be monitoring our physical locations.

We noted:

“Curran’s Google report contained an incredible amount documentation on his web activity, going back over a decade. But perhaps more importantly, Google had also been tracking his real-life movements via his smartphone device or tablet. This included fairly random places he’d frequented, many of the foreign countries and cities he visited, the bars and restaurants he went to while in these countries, the amount of time he spent there, and even the path he took to get there and back.”

Though we cannot tell whether this much Google-gathered data is typical, it is true big tech companies gobble up a lot of user data. It is also clear that one should take the promises of Chrome’s “incognito mode” with a grain of salt. Concerned readers may want to navigate to the links the article shares for taking some control over this data: Here Google account holders can turn off location tracking and other features of Google apps; at this link you can set advertising preferences; and this is how to download that Google data file like Curran did.

We are not sure Google is really collecting 10 times more data than Facebook, but how one’s personal data is being collected and used online does warrant attention.

Cynthia Murrell, September 10, 2019

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