He knows everything about you, and you don’t know it. Kashmi gives you the keys to free yourself from this ubiquitous spy.
Via Gmail, Google, Google Calendar, Picasa, YouTube, Google collects a considerable amount of information about you.
Your place of connection, the name of your browser, gender, age, and even the speed at which you read. When you browse a web page, “Big Brother,” aka Google, potentially knows everything about you.
The latest revelations from the 01net website, published on Friday 8 May, should not help. Not content with knowing your every move on the web, the Mountain View giant can now estimate the legality of your emails’ content. The good news is that there may still be time to disappear from radar screens.
Take stock of the problem.
If you have a Google account, there is a simple way to check what the firm knows about you. Just go to the ad settings page: Google gives you a recap of your profile, as it’s used for targeted advertising while browsing.
In the following example, we are between 35 and 44 years old; our interests are classical dance, new technologies, and current events in general. Our secret passion for dance aside, so far, so good.
By going to your Google dashboard, the urge to laugh should start to pass. On this page, you go to the list of Google services you are used to using and realize with dread that they are not only numerous but, above all, very well informed about your case.
If you’ve turned it on, your Google profile – betrays your date of birth, the name of your contacts, and the nature of your relationship with them. Your Google Documents account indeed says as much about your business as a proper CV.
As for your Gmail account, chances are it contains your whole life, including its most intimate aspects. Your YouTube and Picasa accounts will put the entire thing in pictures. This time, you see the image clearly: you have been leading your entire existence under the sharp eye of “Big Brother” for a long time.
You can even consume this existence on the spot or “takeaway.” By using Google Take Out service, you can download all this data. In my case, they represent a total of 53 files and weigh just over 20 Megas. This is a far cry from the three short lines officially used for targeted advertising.
By installing the PrivacyFix plugin on your browser, you can even estimate the revenue generated by exploiting your data over the past year. In my case, that’s just over 600 euros.
Is it serious, doctor?
You might be aware of the game’s rule, which fits in one sentence: if it’s free, you’re the product. In this case, most of Google’s services are not only non-paying for end-users, but of excellent quality, which explains their popularity. The price to pay is our data. And the seriousness of the situation depends on how it is used.
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Google boss Eric Schmidt, who was asked about the issue at a conference at New York University, defends himself from any abuse: “Let me be obvious that Google is not stalking you. (…) People wouldn’t be happy. Governments would not allow it, and that would be not good for business. In a competitive environment, companies want their customers to be happy.”
Are you not convinced? Know that there are solutions that range from the most basic – limit your traces – to the most radical – you switch from Google.
Limit your tracks
To limit your tracks, you can use against Google its weapons.
Delete your search history. We are not talking here about the history of your web browser, even if you would be better off making it disappear, but the one that is stored on Google’s servers. At the top right of the page, click on the wheel and select the “parameters” option.
Then click the “Deactivate” button. From now on, Google will no longer keep a list of the sites you’ve visited.
Get rid of targeted ads. This has happened to all of us. After sending a few emails to organize a tennis game, you are bombarded with sporting goods advertisements.
The same goes for you as you surf in search of the ultimate tiramisu recipe. Pan batteries replace white socks. In three clicks, you can stop this nuisance. Go back to the ad settings page and scroll through your screen until you see the following lines:
In both cases, click “Deactivate the broadcast.”
Beware of Google Analytics. Analytics is a Google service for website publishers to measure and analyze their audience. Every time you visit a site using this service (about 100% of the pages), your IP address, your computer’s technical characteristics, or your place of connection are recorded.
An excellent player, Google, offers you a plugin compatible with the main internet browsers, which has the effect of disabling this service. Download Analytics Opt Out. The installation is automatic, and its an immediate impact.
Switch to private browsing. Most browsers offer “private navigation” solutions. By using this option, the pages you visit are no longer indexed in your browsing history, and cookies are no longer accepted. If you’re using Chrome (Google’s browser), use the “Ctrl-N” shortcut. With Firefox, type “Ctrl-N.”
Sign out. The major mistake with Google’s services is to be permanently logged in, for example, on your Gmail email account. Once you’re connected to one service, you’re recognized by everyone else. This is the case, for instance, on YouTube.
However, you don’t need to be logged in, other than to read your emails or share a link on Google.
By making sure you disconnect correctly, your Google searches will no longer be associated with your account, even if you haven’t followed our previous tips. To cut the cord, it’s not enough to close your Gmail page. Click on your photo at the top right of the page and push the “Disconnect” button.
If you need to stay connected all the time, you can still use two browsers simultaneously. For example, Chrome for your Gmail account and Firefox in private browsing mode for your unspeakable searches.
As a last resort, change the creamery
As incredible as it sounds, Google is ready to help you leave the ship. With a lot of humor, the company led by Eric Schmidt went so far as to create the Data Liberation Front, a website whose goal is to “facilitate user data outside Google’s services.“
While its position is often dominant, Google has no monopoly on anything. In 2012, American researcher Tom Henderson explained how he had divorced Google, replacing his services. For example, you can do without its search engine using DuckDuckGo, which promises absolute respect for the privacy of its users and pushes advertising to the extreme on its site donttrack.us.