Google, Privacy and Their Real Product

It is in Googles best interest to minimize an individual’s privacy. The objective of the company is to get enough information to serve you with ad-words tailored to your interests and demographic. This is allows the company to develop a method to segment a market to get the most bang out of an advertisers buck. For Google, the the product is not gmail, Android, Google Docs, Google Analytics or any other service they give away to sell for a nominal amount. The product Google produces is information about the people who use the various Google services.

What are you giving up when you use using Google services? The question was answered when they activated Google + and eventually making everyone use the service. To make Google + effective in gathering information on a typical Google user, Google started by banning pseudonyms and other methods of obscuring your identity. This was the method to ensure that they had real identities. When they tied search, mail, docs, YouTube, etc. to Google +, they now have a method to obtain an accurate picture of each user. By combing the pseudonyms once used for each Google service, Google now has a single user sign on tied to an identity of Google +.

Google services on Android track your location, sending the information back to Google. Combine this with Google scanning your email, documents on Google drive, YouTube posts and search queries for key words, you will see that they get a complete picture of where you go, what your interests are, income and other demographic information. Their apps on Android, IOS and the Chrome browser are reporting to Google HQ. The product is information, information about you! Privacy really screws this business model.

By redefining privacy, Google is doing its best to keep its business’s model off the politicians radar. They have not fully succeeded in Europe, but they seem to be getting some traction here. Most of the press does not pursue this angle about Google. An exception was when New York Time did a story in February 2014 on Google +, “The Plus in Google Plus? It’s Mostly for Google”. The tech press give the impression that Google can do no wrong.

Then there is Google’s chief internet evangelist, Vint Cerf, who is credited as one of the founders of the internet. He has been reported as saying; the industrial revolution and the growth of urban concentrations, created a sense of privacy, but that that privacy may actually be an anomaly. He went on to say; “In a town of 3,000 people there is no privacy. Everybody knows what everybody is doing,”. This is one of the most disingenuous statements concerning privacy. In a small town it may be true that everyone knows what everyone is doing, but they also know who is doing the asking and will also find out why they are asking. This is the check on outsiders trying to find out about an individual because the questioner becomes a subject of interest. Also, all information before, during and post the industrial revolution was on paper kept in the originating town or city. To do research before the Information Age and the ubiquity of databases on computers running the World Wide Web, you had to travel to the town or city that originated the documents. You also had to talk to people to get a sense of the person you were researching. This involved a lot of work and the work needed to assemble information on an individual afforded privacy. This obstacle to destroying privacy was not breached until all documents and vital statistics were stored electronically in easily accessible databases. This coupled with the rise of the World Wide Web connecting the databases removed the work it took to compile a profile of an individual.

The primary architect of developing the ability to catalogue and search the web efficiently was Google. To fund search, Google used user information gleaned from search activity to sell advertisements. The information gathered has evolved over time to what we have today. It is now not limited to Google. There is Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, all internet service providers, governments, etc. The end result is a complete depreciation of privacy, with large internet companies trying to convince their users that they need not be concerned about privacy because nothing was private to begin with.