Is Google spying on you?

In the age of technology with a wide range of different applications and services available on the internet, you may believe that search engines like Google are capable of spying on you.

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Is Google spying on you?
Google is able to track your actions through its platforms. Photo: Vchal, Bigstock.

However, to no surprise, every time you or anyone else browses the internet, whether you do it recreationally or for work purposes, Google can track your sessions through a combination of your IP address, relevant internet caches, cookies and internet browsing history itself.

They can do this through a number of different ways using their own Google services, their own apps and of course their search engine. It even extends amongst all platforms, from IPads, IPhones, desktops, you name it.

Naturally, even if you try to stay on top of your internet sessions, if you use any of Google’s major platforms, you will find yourself being tracked by Google. Take for example, if you happen to be logged into Gmail, using YouTube regularly or be an avid user of Google maps, then Google will be able to pair your history up and easily track your movements across the internet.

These services are popular, they’re common amongst every demographic, and that’s why Google has invested so much of their resources into keeping track of all of the data that goes in and out of these services.

How they use this information is entirely up to Google, but it is important to note that Google maintains with the utmost integrity that they do not sell personal information to anyone. Rather, Google will internally use any data and information they collect through their search engine or tracking to enhance the effectiveness of their services.

Google will use the different things you do such as what you watch, where you visit and search, things that you create such as emails contacts or photos, and basic information such as your name and email to make their services much more relevant to you. For example they will autocomplete your searches faster, provide you with relevant advertisements, help you find your own information on the internet or provide you with better videos on YouTube.

Aside from tracking you by using their own Google services, there are a whole variety of different ways that Google can use to track your every step in the internet world. Every single time that you browse the internet, there are certain traces that you leave behind that Google can use to piece together and track your history.

By using your IP address, Google can locate your geographic location and use the address to tie it with previous browsing sessions. This unique ID will allow Google to constantly track your internet history and use the data. Similarly, if you happen to find yourself reopening saved tabs and browser sessions or bookmarking and later revisiting unique URLs with session IDs, this will provide Google with further tools and opportunities to re-join your actual sessions with past sessions on the internet.

When it comes to mobile users such as Android or Apple, Google predominately uses Google Maps to trace the physical locations of users.

privacy settings on Iphone
Privacy settings are an easy way to quickly increase the security of your phone. Photo: screenshot of Iphone taken on 20/9/17.

The majority of the word is unaware that the presence of these apps on their mobile devices will allow Google to track them, and they will continue to do so until you decide to disable that feature yourself. These location tracking services can even be performed minute by minute by the Google service ‘Your Timeline’. In order to disable this, you’ll have to go into Google Maps and Timeline and pause location data. This will prevent any further tracking of your physical location and where you’ve been on your mobile at the very least. Once this is done, Google is still able to track your data based on past historical data and cashes on your mobile devices or other services, which is why you will have to delete such cashes by going through the settings of both apps.

So for those of you who are wondering if Google are spying you, it is not so much as spying on you, but rather they are tracking your information within their internal systems. Every time you use Google and their different services, they will track you to use your data to make their services more specific to you. Now, whether or not you should be concerned about this and your privacy will be different. Each and every person will view this differently, and it is up to you.