I know Google is a really useful search engine, but I have plenty of problems with the big ‘G’.
First and foremost they are a monopoly. They own the search market, the online advertising market, and just about everything else that has to do with surfing the web. Our leaders these days seem more interested in spying on their own citizens than actually upholding the laws that should keep these companies from controlling our lives.
What I am most concerned with is their ability to spy on our personal lives. Google (because they own the web) knows exactly where you search, what you shop for, and what you read on the web. They use this information to supply your personal information to the guys they really work for. No, not their stockholders or Larry Page. Its advertisers. Companies. Ad agencies. Data collectors. And they’ve been known to turn over search preferences to law enforcement, often WITHOUT search warrants.
Your information (your location, preferences, income levels, family status, and political preference) is being bought and sold hundreds of times a day. Advertisers will pay more when they know WHO you are, so Google is happy to oblige. And why not, they only made $15 billion last year handing out your info. That’s profit, not revenue, mind you.
There are a few things you can do to protect yourself, take these few simple steps to limit your exposure:
- Turn off cookies in your browser. These tiny little pieces of computer code are the primary method for tracking your preferences.
- Tell Google not to track your searches. Log into Google and then go to https://www.google.com/history, where you can set your preferences.
- Use an anonymous browser that won’t track your actions or relate personal information to websites. The best is Tor Browser Bundle, which routes your traffic through its network, so that sites and advertisers can’t track you. This may slow down browsing a little bit. Another is SRWARE Iron, which is the same software platform as Google Chrome, without the nosy Google bots tracking your every move.
Regardless of what you use or how you browse, remember that as long as the web remains the wild west, that corrupt entities like Google will be lurking in the corners to spy on you. Proceed with caution.