Google’s Data Collection is Hard To Escape, Study Claims

Citing a report [PDF] published on Tuesday by Digital Content Next and Vanderbilt University, CNN writes that “short of chucking your phone into the river, shunning the internet, and learning to read paper maps again, there’s not much you can do to keep Google from collecting data about you.” From the report: So says a Vanderbilt University computer scientist who led an analysis of Google’s data collection practices. His report, released Tuesday, outlines a myriad ways the company amasses information about the billions of people who use the world’s leading search engine, web browser, and mobile operating system, not to mention products like Gmail, platforms like YouTube, and products like Nest. Although the report doesn’t contain any bombshells, it presents an overview of Google’s efforts to learn as much as possible about people.

[…] Google collects far more data than Facebook, according to the report, and it is the world’s largest digital advertising company. Its vast portfolio of services, from Android to Google Search to Chrome to Google Pay, create a firehose of data. Professor Douglas Schmidt and his team intercepted data as it was transmitted from Android smartphones to Google servers. They also examined the information Google provides users in its My Activity and Google Takeout tools, as well as the company’s privacy polices and previous research on the topic. The researchers claims that almost every move you make online is collected and collated, from your morning routine (such as music tastes, route to work, and news preferences) to errands (including calendar appointments, webpages visited, and purchases made). “At the end of the day, Google identified user interests with remarkable accuracy,” the report states.

In a statement, Google said, “This report is commissioned by a professional DC lobbyist group, and written by a witness for Oracle in their ongoing copyright litigation with Google. So, it’s no surprise that it contains wildly misleading information.”