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Is Google becoming Big Brother?

November 13, 2013 - Art Smith
Data being entered is a requirement for software to work; sometimes how that data is gathered just gets a little too creepy for some users.

Several months ago Google updated its mobile app. The app provides a lot of information, including the current weather, the number of minutes you have until you reach work as well as what you have scheduled for the day.

It knows much of this information because you allow it to know your location. The software giant collects it and keeps track of it for at least 30 days.

It’s pretty creepy when you think about it. People worry about what the NSA may have collected on them. Google knows where I’ve been and how long I spent there for the last month.

Yes, you can delete the data, but few people would bother, or know where to go to do so.

As a user of Google maps, I have the location service enabled on my iPhone. It appears to keep track of your location as long as you are signed into a Google service.

A review of the data kind of shocked me. When overlaid on a map, it presents a review of my travels over the last 30 days. The time line also correctly indicated I spent less time at home last week than normal, true – we made two trips to Columbus that it also noted. It incorrectly indicated the amount of time I spent at work, but correctly indicated days I normally go to certain addresses. It also correctly indicated nearly every major trip I have taken since June.

Gathering massive amounts of data about million of people allows organizations to learn habits and thus tailor products to deliver features that help make our lives better.

I drive a lot, so Google has collected a lot of data on me. The fact that all those trips are being carefully logged is just a little creepy. Google's internally used motto is “do no Evil” – Let’s hope so.


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