I came across a bit of news today about Google that made me laugh out loud and disturbed me at the same time. Google is seriously out-of-touch and in their own little world. They’re completely unwilling to listen to what the average person is shouting at them, which is for Google to respect our privacy. Instead, Google will only do what can get them more cash by selling our personal information.
A technology website, Search Engine Land, exposed how Google is now offering to pay a number of selected individuals if they allow Google to monitor everything they do on the Internet. Google claims it wants this information to better serve people and improve products. Consumer watchdogs think that this is yet another creepy way of Google collecting even more information from people and are puzzled as to exactly why Google even needs that extra information. Google refused to specify how exactly the tracking of users will help them improve products.
Google’s monitoring program, called Screenwise, was launched sometime at the beginning of January – according to Google. Those willing to be monitored are asked to download an add-on extension onto Google’s Chrome browser. Google has even opened up the monitoring of Internet activity to children as young as 14 to participate.
Those who agree to the program will be given $5 for the initial sign-up and will be eligible for $5 for every 3 months they have the tracking device on their computer. Though, Google only offered $25 dollars maximum. Isn’t Google so generous?
This massive company is already worth tens of billions of dollars from selling your personal information to advertisers and now they want to collect even more information from you by throwing a measly few bucks at you. Ha! That’s like a slap in the face, really. Author and contributor to CNN, Frida Ghitis, wrote this in her article, “Google knows too much about you”, published today:
“Google has every e-mail you ever sent or received on Gmail. It has every search you ever made, the contents of every chat you ever had over Google Talk. It holds a record of every telephone conversation you had using Google Voice, it knows every Google Alert you’ve set up. It has your Google Calendar with all content going back as far as you’ve used it, including everything you’ve done every day since then. It knows your contact list with all the information you may have included about yourself and the people you know. It has your Picasa pictures, your news page configuration, indicating what topics you’re most interested in. And so on. If you ever used Google while logged in to your account to search for a person, a symptom, a medical side effect, a political idea; if you ever gossiped using one of Google’s services, all of this is on Google’s servers. And thanks to the magic of Google’s algorithms, it is easy to sift through the information because Google search works like a charm. Google can even track searches on your computer when you’re not logged in for up to six months. You’ve done it, said it, clicked it, searched it, Googled it. You can never undo it or unclick it. It stays there forever. Unless the people demand that government order a stop to it.”
Google already does all that without even needing a monitoring program for you to opt-in. However, if the $5 dollars every three months is an offer you just can’t refuse – then you better think it over more seriously. David Jacobs, a consumer protection fellow at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, says that people need to take note of the fine print before they agree to relinquish their privacy to Google. Mr. Jacobs points out that the program will allow Google to track user activity “at a higher level of detail” than it already does. Google will be able to observe not just the websites you visit but how you use those websites too.
Regardless, privacy advocates are at least glad Google did one thing correct in this whole thing. At least this time they asked permission for people to be included in this program. The company asked people to opt-in. Wow, phew! Thank goodness. Let’s all celebrate now that Google at least didn’t deceive us this time around like they have done before.
Google said “it’s our way of saying ‘Thank you.'”
Well, Google, thanks but no thanks!