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Did you know that Google is tracking your every single move? No? Most people don’t, yet they are;

 

Google Tracking Your Every Move

 

The above is where I have personally been recently while out and about on the road visiting businesses which is naturally a large part of the work that I do. This isn’t some feature that I have personally set up. No, this is something which Google has enabled by default and means that they are tracking my every move, and yours too. I’m sure there will be some small print in the terms of use somewhere but this isn’t the point.

Google is not alone in this activity. Back in 2012, Apple were found out to be tracking users without permission. With the rise of smart technology such as phones and tablets, which have many sensing devices built in, there needs to be a much easier way for users to understand what data is being tracked and how this is being used.

 

Check what Google knows about where you have been recently

 

To see what Google knows about where you have been recently, click the above link and sign into the (or one of the..) Google Accounts that you are signed into on your mobile phone. You’ll be surprised at what you can see!

 

Clear Permissions and User Control

Currently it is not clear for users what data is being tracked by the majority of software and apps that you are using on your mobile devices. The industry as a whole needs to take more responsibility for privacy and security related issues. Google has recently launched Google My Account which is designed to take this a step closer to where we need to be, although I’m not sure this going far enough;

 

Google My Account

 

If you are concerned about what information Google is tracking about you, it would be recommended to check through the settings for all of your Google Accounts within the My Account feature that has recently launched. Specifically where you can turn off the feature for how Google is tracking your every move if you feel this is a little too invasive into your life. Simply navigate to the Personal Info & Privacy page, then scroll down to the Places You Go section to turn this off;

 

Turn off Google Location Tracking

 

Privacy

The amount of data that is being collected about everyone on a daily basis is enormous. Data that can ultimately be used for advertising purposes, sold to other companies or even stolen by cyber criminals. There are already rules in place around data security including the Data Protection Act which states that any information stored must be;

  • used fairly and lawfully
  • used for limited, specifically stated purposes
  • used in a way that is adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • accurate
  • kept for no longer than is absolutely necessary
  • handled according to people’s data protection rights
  • kept safe and secure
  • not transferred outside the UK without adequate protection

There is stronger legal protection for more sensitive information, such as:

  • ethnic background
  • political opinions
  • religious beliefs
  • health
  • sexual health
  • criminal records

What is interesting when comparing the above with what is actually happening in the world, it takes no legal expert to raise a few eyebrows at the disparity between the rules and reality. What is clear though is that there needs to be a much more thorough and clear process in place for all data stored about people by large organisations. When comparing this to a real world context, if you were being followed around all day, every day, by a private investigator how would you feel?

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Michael Cropper

Founder & Managing Director at Contrado Digital Ltd
Michael founded Contrado Digital in 2013. He has experience working with national and multi-national brands in a wide range of industries, helping them achieve awesome results. Michael regularly speaks at local universities and industry events while keeping up with the latest trends in the digital industry.