What data does Google collect?

What data does Google collect?

What data does Google collect?

 Google’s wide range of products means that nearly every time you use the internet, you are giving the tech giant a peek into your thoughts, preferences and behaviour.

Whether you use an Andriod or not, Google plays a fundamental role in your digital life.  Google Search is the most widely used search engine in the world, with over 5.6 billion searches per day.  Google’s wide range of products means that nearly every time you use the internet, you are giving the tech giant a peek into your thoughts, preferences and behaviour. A paper published by Doug Leigh revealed that even when minimally configured and idle, an Andriod device sends data to Google on average every 4.5 minutes. There have been claims that from the data they have, the service provider can guess everything about you from how happy you are to what you want to change in your life all based on the data they have. This then begs the question – What data does Google collect?

The data Google collects

The data Google has access to depends on the products you use. It is important to note only data you voluntarily offer or grant access to is collected. Here are some of the data Google collects about you:

Location: When you have location services turned on, your location data is collected and stored. Google gathers near-precise location data from the Global Positioning System (GPS) chip on your device. This data includes the places where you live, where you work, the places you look up as well as the places you visit. 

Email: With over a billion active users, Gmail is the most widely used email client. The tech leader collects data on just about everything that goes on in your inbox; from important emails to spam. 

Browsing History: As of 2021, Google holds about 92% of the search engine market share. This allows the search behemoth to collect browsing data including search history, interactions with websites, purchase activity and so on. Your Youtube habits(watch history, comments, screen time, etc) are not excluded. 

App, Devices, Browsers: Your preferred method of accessing the data-driven superpower is also taken into account. This covers browser information, device ID, IP address, operating system, system activity, Internet Service Provider (ISP) information and so on.

Unique Identifiers: When you are not signed into your Google account, unique identifiers are used to collect data about your online activity. The data collected is used to identify specific devices or apps on that device as well as syncing services and provide targeted advertising.

What does Google do with this data?

The vast amount of data collected benefits both the company and the users. Nearly 90% of Google’s revenue comes from advertising. The more tailored the ad is to your needs, the more money the advertising kingpin makes. Every click, every interaction, every download, helps them build an extensive advertising profile for you. So when you lookup for an item and see related ads on other sites you visit, that is Google using your advertising profile to provide targeted ads. However, Google does not ‘sell’ your information to these companies. Instead, they use the data available to them to help reach their target audience without identifying you personally 

The more data Google collects, the better your online experience is. But this doesn’t happen with just your data. Data from millions of users is used to determine what is relevant as well as the quality of content available on the web. This information is used to refine Google’s search algorithms to determine the order of search results and improve usability. Search results also power Google Trends, a website that rich contextual information about top search queries across Google services. Overall, the relationship between the user and Google is symbiotic, as both parties benefit from the data collected. Users also have control over the data the digital empire can collect and track. You can view your advertising profile and turn off personalized ads here. You can also ask Google to delete your data from the My Google Activity page on your Google account.

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The New Era of Social Networks: Security as a Paid Service

The New Era of Social Networks: Security as a Paid Service

With the digital divide far from bridged, big tech has introduced a class divide

Social networks have become an integral part of modern society, proving a medium for people from all around the world to connect and share information at practically no cost. While there have always been concerns about privacy and security, these concerns have heightened in the past few months with tech companies now offering security as a paid service.
Elon Musk kickstarted this era by making the ‘Blue Tick’, a verification badge that provides some form of trust and security, a feature available to anyone willing to pay $8. This move, as predicted by many, led to a plethora of security issues including phishing, misinformation, and brand endangerment. The parent company of Facebook and Instagram, Meta, has announced that it is testing a subscription model similar to Musk’s Twitter Blue. Meta Verified is a monthly subscription service that lets users verify their account with a government ID, get a blue badge, and get extra impersonation protection against accounts impersonating them, according to the company. The announcement has sparked some outrage, with users insisting that they shouldn’t have to pay to be protected from impersonation.

Twitter’s new condition for 2FA

Recently, Twitter took the security-as-a-paid-service era a step further by making the text message two-factor authentication option available to only its paying users. Two-factor authentication is a basic layer of security that protects users from being victims of cybercrimes and for many users, it is what stands between them and several attacks. The company explains the move as a security move- but at what cost? And how does this affect non-paying customers but not the paying ones?

Granted, text message authentication is not without its flaws but it is the most accessible to users of all demographics. It has been a struggle to get people to adopt 2FA and the simplicity of text message OTP has driven adoption. At the time this article was written, only about 2.6% of Twitter users have any form of 2FA enabled. A key factor to consider when implementing security mechanisms is balancing accessibility and security. The two-factor authentication options available to non-paying customers are not the most accessible for the non-tech savvy. With authenticator apps, device or location changes can lead to a user being locked out of their account. It is also important to note that Twitter Blue is only available in select locations.

Evolution from text-message authentication is paramount, users need to make a switch to more secure means. But this is not going to happen by erasing it altogether and expecting the users to simply adapt. The evolution of security processes is a gradual process that requires extensive user education and patience. Rushing through it will simply breathe life into old vulnerabilities. In the event of uncertainty or confusion, a lot of users simply don’t take any action or stick with the basics. This means a lot of non-paying Twitter users have been booted completely off two-factor authentication, thereby exposing them to attacks that can be prevented.

Social networks have been free to use since inception and we’re now seeing a new era of monetizing these platforms by subscription. Ad-free browsing, higher visibility and the status that comes with the blue tick are no longer enough to sell a once-free service and so companies have resorted to selling core services including security. This has led to security shifting from being a matter of trust and safety to being for the highest bidder. 

It is not far-fetched to imply that Meta Verified was influenced by other social networks’ subscription models. A dangerous precedent has been set and its implications cannot be overstated. The need to monetize the massive user base by tech giants is understandable, but basic security behind a paywall is several steps backwards. Security as a paid service means these companies are creating a class divide where only those who afford their fee can enjoy a safer online experience. 

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whoscammedme search

New Website, Who This?-

Our team at OCYNT came together to create something that is simple and interactive yet informative that can help everybody regardless of tech know-how. 2020 gave us a pandemic and a rise in the rate of scams and all kinds of fraud attempts worldwide; hence the need for this website. This project has been in the works for a while now, with the creative team designing and redesigning with you in mind and we hope you love it just as much as we do!

whoscammed is the first feature of OCYNT to be rolled out before our big launch. It is a creative, constantly updated database of scams that enables you to look up what you think might be a scam and confirm for yourself. At OCYNT, equity is one of our core values; and we believe everybody should have access to opportunities without fear of data theft and the likes which brought us to the whole premise of this website- a way to make informed decisions.
the database employs information collected from research and confirmed scams combined with Open Source Intelligence(OSINT) tools to flag scams. For scams not logged in our data, the algorithm looks out for red flags; the more red flag an entry gets, the more likely it is to be a scam. in 5 easy steps

Want To Help?
Easy peasy!

  1. You can log websites you think are not legit and our team will vet them.
  2. You can also donate to help our community grow. 
  3. Subscribe to our newsletter, to be the first to know when we upload a new blog post.
  4. Finally, spread the word, a new cyber sheriff is in town!

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