Is Google Spying on You? All You Need to Know
Last Updated: February 3, 2021
If you use an Android device, then Google is not in any way a stranger to you. Every Android-powered device is linked to a Google account that makes it possible for your device to run. With this account, Google can provide you with its many services. However, there have been speculations that Google is getting a lot of rewards off you. While you use the Android-powered device, Google is spying on you and collecting your data indiscriminately. How true is this? Well, you are about to find out. Stick around; let’s tell you all you need to know about these allegations about Google.
Are the Rumors True? Does Google Spy on You?
Well, it depends on how you want to view this. Google makes it very clear that it collects data from you. It claims the data is used to serve you better. That’s what they say. But some people disagree. There seems to be proof that Google is taking more than it needs and is doing so illegally.
In the United States, it is against the law to record a conversation without the consent of all the parties involved. However, if you go to your Google activity page and check on the recordings, you will see recordings from the Google assistant that happened without your knowledge or consent. Google also knows what applications you are using on your device when you use them and for how long. When it comes to geotagging, Google can monitor your movement even if your phone is on airplane mode. Now that’s a lot.
On the one hand, it looks like you are being monitored. On the other hand, it seems like Google is just doing exactly what it claimed it would do from the beginning, which is collecting your data (even though it seems excessive) to serve you better. Wherever you stand, you are right.
How Do They “Collect Data”?
If you visit your activity page, you will discover five basic activities that Google monitors to collect data from you. We would discuss each one in detail below.
1. Web & App Activity
This section deals with all your Web activity and history. All the websites you visited are stored up here. The apps you used on your device (even non-Google apps) are all recorded under this section. They have a record of how long you used the apps. They do not record what was done within the app, but they know you were using that app.
2. Location History
Google keeps track of everywhere you go with your device. It keeps tabs of wherever you go and when you went there. Even when your device is on airplane mode, Google still has a way of taking this information from you.
3. Device Information
This section does not contain much personal data. It’s just a record of all the different devices connected to your Google account.
4. Voice & Audio Activity
If you use Google Assistant regularly, this section will be full of all your audio queries sent to Google Assistant. Just one click on manage activity, and you would find all of your audio queries sent to Google Assistant. You can even replay them.
5. YouTube History
This is a history of your activity on YouTube. It records your YouTube searches and the videos you watch too. This is how it’s able to make suggestions for you all the time.
However, when you consider the amount of data collected, it’s rather scary that so much data is collected about you. However, Google claims that only you can see this data (apart from them, of course). This data, they claim, is used to serve you better. That’s what they all say.
How Can I Stop This Data Collection?
Wherever you stand, it’s okay. If you trust Google with all of that data, it’s all your choice. However, if you do not feel comfortable with someone out there having so much information about you, we would show you how you can delete the data that is already collected and how you can prevent future data collection.
1. How to delete collected data
To delete the current data, all you have to do is go to your Google account’s Activity tab. You would see all the previous segments listed above: Web & App Activity, Location History, Device Information, Voice & Audio Activity, and YouTube History. These different sections have a tab called “manage activity,” where you can view and delete all past data entries.
All you need to do is click on the manage activity tab. You would see the option to delete all entries. In some sections, you have the option to delete entries one by one. If you click the delete button, the activities are deleted. However, you must note that while Google claims that the activities have been deleted from its storage systems, it equally says that some data is left behind for the “life of your account.” It also says that some data is not deleted from its storage and is used for “business and legal” purposes.
2. How to stop the data collection
When it comes to stopping data collection, there are a few things that you can do to limit the amount of data collected from you. It is impossible to stall data collection completely. You would still use Google’s services. The only true way to stop everything is to discontinue the use of Google’s services. But if you want to do what you can to limit their data collection, then here are a few things that you can do:
Use incognito tabs: When you use incognito tabs, there is no record of your browsing activity. This would stop Google from collecting any information from that browsing section.
Turn off Location: Turning off Location would make it impossible for Google to do its normal geotagging. However, keep in mind that some applications would not work properly if Location is not on.
Don’t sign in on your browser: If you are not signed into the browser, there is no way your history would be saved. Also, sites like Google would not allow you like videos, comment, or subscribe. You can’t also use Google’s services like Gmail, Docs, Sheets, and others if you are not signed in.
Deactivate all activity sections: You can go to your activity page and deactivate all the activity sections. This way, Google would not be able to keep tabs on you anymore. However, this might affect your usage of sites like YouTube as you would not get recommendations like before.
Opt-out of personalized ads: Another thing you can do is to opt-out of the personalized ads feature. When you turn this off, Google will not serve you ads anymore on different websites, on YouTube, and its search engine.
Can a VPN help?
If you get a top tier VPN, it could help a great deal. Applications like Google Maps depend on your location information to work accurately, so changing your virtual location with a VPN can throw Google off your scent. Also, the VPN encryption would ensure that your data is not collected throughout all your sessions. Whatever you do in those sessions would not reflect on your history at all. A VPN can help your privacy game a great deal. However, if you want to get a VPN, get a paid one, as those are the effective ones.
If you want to limit the amount of invasion Google has on your privacy, you can consider using the steps listed above. Remember that the fight for your privacy is a lifelong battle, and you never get to the end. Pay close attention to your internet activity tab in the future. It could help you keep Google away to a certain degree. Stay safe, stay private.