Yes, Google knows all about you

The Dominion Post - - Technology - BLAYNE SLABBERT

After years of warn­ings about be­ing care­ful with your per­sonal data on­line, peo­ple are fi­nally wak­ing up to how much tech com­pa­nies know about them.

While Face­book has taken the brunt of the re­cent crit­i­cism, Google also has a vast amount of data about you. In­ter­net users do more than three bil­lion searches on Google every day and all the data is kept and used to help them sell more ads.

Google knows every web­site you go, who your friends are (via Con­tacts) and maybe even where you travel to (via Google Maps). And if you use an An­droid phone it knows what apps you use and when you use them.

It’s easy to find out what data Google has on you but it’s hard to escape. Even if you delete your ac­tiv­ity, the com­pany still keeps some ba­sic per­sonal data.

And the more you use Google prod­ucts, the more use­ful they be­come. For ex­am­ple, you can set a work and home ad­dress in Google Maps so when you search for a

Even if you delete your ac­tiv­ity, the com­pany still keeps some ba­sic per­sonal data.

des­ti­na­tion it can tell you how far it is from work or home. But if you do that you’re giv­ing them key per­sonal in­for­ma­tion which can also be used by other Google apps.

Also, Google’s suite of ser­vices makes it in­con­ve­nient to leave. Gmail, Maps, Docs, Chrome Sheets, and Drive are all great prod­ucts, but get even bet­ter when used in con­junc­tion with each other. So what are your op­tions?

First, take a look at what Google knows about you (visit my­ac­tiv­ity.google.com) or down­load it (take­out.google.com). If you’re happy with it hav­ing that data then you can keep on us­ing Google apps for free and in ex­change al­low it to track and keep your in­for­ma­tion.

The other op­tion is to lock down some of the set­tings, for ex­am­ple block­ing your lo­ca­tion.

Your fi­nal op­tion is to leave Google. You can delete all the data Google knows about you and start us­ing other apps.

Duck­DuckGo is a search en­gine that doesn’t track you on­line. For nav­i­gat­ing around town down­load the Navmii app, and look at Fire­fox to re­place Chrome as a web browser. In­stead of Gmail, try Ko­lab Now or FastMail and for doc­u­ments you could try Mi­crosoft Office or Zoho Docs.

It takes a buf­fet of apps to re­place Google, but it is pos­si­ble to leave the com­pany and stop it col­lect­ing and us­ing your data.

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