If you found this article by searching on Google, you’re in the right place. It’s safe to assume that you’re curious about the overall safety of using Google. Is it actually collecting your information? How much does the popular search engine already know about you? Is it tracking your location? Should you be worried that Google is collecting your data? The short answer is yes.
What Google Collects
Google has tracked your location if you’ve ever allowed it to. How do you know if you’ve let this happen? Have you ever searched for something in your area and gotten results? It may sound like a stupid question, but that’s all it takes for Google to know your location. This can be even worse if you’ve done this on a mobile device that you take with you, like your cell phone.
This may seem obvious, but Google keeps tabs on your web activity. This not only includes what websites you’re visiting, but what time of day you’re doing it, how often, and how long you’re spending on said websites. It will keep track of search history to bring you specific advertisements or “help” by providing curated search results.
Data and Personal Information
We now know that Google likely knows your location, but does it know other personal information about you? Well, have you ever bought anything online? Have you signed into social media? Maybe you’ve used Google’s email services. If you’ve done any of the above, Google likely has plenty of your personal information.
This can include your full name, phone number, email address, home address, credit card number, birthday, and more. I don’t know about you, but this is information that I wouldn’t want an entire search engine to have access to whenever they want it. This information can be sold by third-party companies for a pretty penny without your knowledge as well.
Visual and Audio Activity
Similarly to location, if you’ve given permission or even have your mic or camera-enabled on any of your devices, Google has access to what you’re saying or video footage of what you’re doing. If you own a Google Home or use any other voice-activated software, including Siri, Google has access to your audio.
Many people have found this out after seeing several advertisements on Google and social media for items they’ve never searched. This wouldn’t be strange, had these people not recently been talking out loud about the same products they’re seeing advertised.
Downloaded Apps and Media
Google also knows plenty of information about the device you’re using. Just like how it can keep track of your web activity, Google will know what apps you have on your device and how often you use them. Google can also have access to your photos, videos, and other forms of media.
Hot.com can be used as a privacy-oriented search engine to bring you the results you’d get from Google. This search engine doesn’t keep track of your search history and you can search without worrying about data mining.
DuckDuckGo is the most similar to the Google search engine alternative that there is. It’s easy to use and doesn’t track your location or use curated ads to try to get you to buy things that you don’t want in the first place.
Swisscow is a privately serviced search engine that allows users to search for whatever they want without compromising personal sensitive data. It is designed to be used by people of all ages and is safe for the entire family.
Another great alternative to Google is Hotbot. This is a search engine that actually brings you results from Google, but also provides a defense barrier. Because you’re using Hotbot, Google will not see or be able to store your IP address. It’s a win-win.
Ecosia is another privacy-oriented search engine that looks a lot like Google. You’ll be able to get quick results on a private server. Ecosia is safe for the environment and even uses renewable energy. There’s no reason not to give it a try!