The Facebook privacy breach rattled users all around the globe, but some believe the problems are just beginning. For instance, Google reportedly collects so much data on each person, that if it were all printed, it would be a stack of paper eight-feet high. Not only that, this amount of data is collected on a person every two weeks, according to The Sun. If it seems incredible, that’s because most people don’t realize the extent to which the data harvesting is happening, and why.
The Wall Street Journal listed several data points that Google tracks for each user, which includes internet browsing and search history. But it doesn’t end there. Anything from your phone apps and your in-store purchases are tracked and recorded. And similarly to Facebook maintaining “shadow profiles” of people who have never even signed up for the platform, some believe a similar system is in place at Google.
Many people provide rich data to companies by allowing phone apps to gain access to anything from contact lists, location information, to their phone camera and mics. The data is then harvested and sold by data brokers to anyone who wants to buy it. Most of the time, the information is used for targeted advertisement companies. So although users are not being paid to share their data, brokers are getting rich and users’ privacy is completely disregarded.
In addition, platforms like Google and Facebook are also profiting from the data by generating money selling advertisement space. A reporter from CNBC looked into the information that Google had on them, and it included incredibly detailed data. Google knew when the person used smart lights and even had voice recordings from when they used Google Assistant. Google also had saved all of their location history and knew where this person had been over the past eight years.
Unfortunately, users have been using platforms like Google and Facebook for such a long time that many people have become dependent on it. At the same time, there has been little-to-no oversight on the way data is collected, harvested, and sold. With the rise in awareness thanks to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it’s only a matter of time before other internet giants have to answer some tough questions about user privacy and data collection.