How much intrusion is too much intrusion? This is a question we all need to start seriously asking ourselves as new revelations come out almost daily about the overstep of one of the large tech giants on our personal privacy. It was revealed that Google is tracking our every move both online and offline as reported on May 24th in all major news outlets. Now it’s not just what we search for that they’re tracking, it’s what we are doing throughout the entire day that Google and other firms like them are tracking in real time.
Google has developed proprietary algorithms that allow them to mine credit card data from offline merchants and then match them to the digital identities of consumers who never made any portion of the transaction online. Essentially Google has developed a way to take all your data from your desktop, laptop, mobile and car and connect you to an offline in store transaction. Google knows where we are going and when because they track our exact location throughout the day and match this data with information from our credit cards. They won’t release the exact method they are using to combine the data because it is based on patent pending technology. That’s pretty creepy if you ask me. This is truly the end of whatever privacy we thought we had left.
Google is trying to prove that its online ad campaigns have real impacts on purchasing decisions offline. Google believes that if it can prove the connection between online ads and offline purchasing behavior more offline retailers with negligible online presences will use their services. But why should we be sacrificing our privacy to help google better sell advertisements to companies who want to sell us more things? Also why are they able to get all of this information about us when we are not actively participating in this program to track our offline purchases and transactions? It’s quite simple. We agreed to it unknowingly when we downloaded: Youtube, Google, Google Maps, Google Play and clicked Accept on the User Agreement that no one ever reads. By clicking this little Accept button we’ve turned our mobile devices into digital monitoring devices that allow Google and any other company that installs software on our phones or computers to track just about every move we make and keep that information forever.
What if you don’t want to have every part of your life monitored by Google, Facebook or any of the other data companies? Well there is no 100% way to be untraceable by these services but there are some simple steps you can take that will require a small amount of pain and discipline on your part.
So here is what you do:
- Turn off your location in your phone settings.
- Uninstall Facebook, Chrome, Youtube, Google Maps and other social media apps if you want to be very thorough. You can still use most of these services when you use your computer.
- Use messaging apps like Wickr and Signal to protect your text messages and avoid iMessage, Whatsapp (Facebook), G Chat and regular text messaging.
- Don't use free services from Google, Yahoo, MSN or any of the other free email sites. They're giving it to you for free because you're paying them with your data. Use free with pay option email services like Tutanota and ProtonMail.
There are many other things that you can do to minimize the collection of your data but these are the easiest and most pain free ones you can use.