Is Google Selling Your Personal Information? Learn How to Protect Yourself
The internet allows millions of users to complete tasks quickly and conveniently. However, one of the main concerns people have is online privacy. Companies like Facebook are known to collect and share data from their users. Data brokers like Whitepages often buy and sell information. A data broker is a company that specializes in collecting an individual’s information from public and private sources. Google is another major tech company that controls 62% of mobile browsers and 69% of desktop browsers. Around 92% of internet searches use Google. How much information does Google collect? And, does Google sell your personal information?
Here is What They Know
You might be surprised at just how much personal information Google has acquired. By using its services, Google can collect your data to improve its products. They are constantly tracking the activities of their users. Some personal information they gather include:
- Recent searches
- Recent websites visited
- Places traveled
- Political beliefs
How Do They Track You?
From your data, Google is able to create a complete profile. The reason why the company can collect so much information is that it has several ways to track users. Chrome stores websites you have visited through browser history. Google Maps can trace where users have been. The company can see the videos you watch on YouTube. The Hangouts app finds out about what people you know.
Internet cookies are also a popular way for many companies to store data. A cookie is a piece of information that a website sends to your browser to be stored while browsing. It is a way for websites to remember user information like name and address. While cookies are harmless overall, Google will use them to target ads.
Sharing with Advertisers
Another way Google will profit from information is with real-time bidding. Real-time bidding, or RTB, is the process of companies auctioning off ad space on their apps or websites. Google is involved at almost every level of the process. The information that gets shared includes:
- Device IDs
- Browsing history
- Identifying cookies
During RTB, user data will pass through three layers of companies on the way to advertisers. There are the supply-side platforms that collect and sell data, ad exchanges that organize the auctions, and demand-side platforms that bid on behalf of advertisers. Google owns a considerable portion of nearly every level, and bidding can take milliseconds.
Removing Information from Google Accounts
There are ways you can limit and even delete some information stored on your Google Account. Using Activity Controls, you can choose which activities get saved. You can turn on auto-delete to delete web activities after a certain period. On chrome or other browsers, delete the cookies and browsing history that gets stored. Go to My Activity, where there will be the option to delete all activity or individual ones.
Personal Information in Google Searches
Unfortunately, you cannot remove all your information completely. However, you can limit the data that gets collected. By visiting the Google Web and Activity Page, click on “manage activity” to restrict how much gets stored. You can also use VPNs or private browsing.
Most likely, you may see that your name appears on Google’s search engine. To reduce the number of places where your name shows up, find the websites that have your name and delete them. Set social media profiles to private to make it harder for information to appear on Google searches. You may request Google to remove the site from appearing in the search results. However, your name will still be on the site.
More than 40 data brokers are selling your information every time you or a family member searches your name. DeleteMe is a service that protects your data and removes information from the internet. It is one of the most requested data broker opt-outs available. While you can do it yourself, DeleteMe will go through each website and remove the information for you. Stop your name from showing up on Google today.