What Google knows about you

Posted on May 28, 2009 

What Google knows about you

Kevin Bankston, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, recently made that statement to this reporter. A few years ago, it might have sounded far-fetched. But if you’re one of the growing number of people who are using more and more products in Google’s ever-expanding stable (at last count, I was using a dozen), you might wonder if Bankston isn’t onto something.

It’s easy to understand why privacy advocates and policymakers are sounding alarms about online privacy in general — and singling out Google in particular. If you use Google’s search engine, Google knows what you searched for as well as your activity on partner Web sites that use its ad services. If you use the Chrome browser, it may know every Web site you’ve typed into the address bar, or “Omnibox.”

It may have all of your e-mail (Gmail), your appointments (Google Calendar) and even your last known location (Google Latitude). It may know what you’re watching (YouTube) and whom you are calling. It may have transcripts of your telephone messages (Google Voice).

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