By now you’ve seen it, the privacy link on Google, YouTube, etc. explaining that “this stuff matters”. Did you read it? I have been plowing through it here and there. It’s boring, but I knew it would become a big point of discussion. Because every time I go to YouTube to log in, or head to Google, it pops up. I get it already.
But they’re right: This stuff matters.
Take this little blurb from and article written for CNN by Frida Ghitis of the Miami Herald. She dissected, digested and made sense of all the legalese and sums it up in these sobering little paragraphs:
Google has every e-mail you ever sent or received on Gmail. It has every search you ever made, the contents of every chat you ever had over Google Talk. It holds a record of every telephone conversation you had using Google Voice, it knows every Google Alert you’ve set up. It has your Google Calendar with all content going back as far as you’ve used it, including everything you’ve done every day since then. It knows your contact list with all the information you may have included about yourself and the people you know. It has your Picasa pictures, your news page configuration, indicating what topics you’re most interested in. And so on.
If you ever used Google while logged in to your account to search for a person, a symptom, a medical side effect, a political idea; if you ever gossiped using one of Google’s services, all of this is on Google’s servers. And thanks to the magic of Google’s algorithms, it is easy to sift through the information because Google search works like a charm. Google can even track searches on your computer when you’re not logged in for up to six months.
Maybe you’re from the camp who believes they’ll never have to worry what anyone thinks of their searches or emails because there not interesting or important enough. Perhaps. But can you imagine running for office or getting caught up in a major crime by accident? This stuff could possibly come back to haunt you.
I agree in that this information should only belong to you. But that may not happen for a very long time. Besides, Google is giving you the world for free. What are you giving them? There’s always a tradeoff. But the threat of hackers scares me. When you put all your golden nuggets in one basket…well, there’s a moral there. Just don’t do it is what I’ve learned.
This will continually set up a great debate. Whether the government interferes, or if we even want them too is another debate for another day. But man, it’s fun living in these times, isn’t it!?
As for the privacy statements, yes, they’re annoying. Yes, they’re boring to read. But knowledge is power.
Just Google it.