In recent times, there has been a lot of brouhaha over personal privacy on the internet. Recent events like releasing over of personal data by renowned companies like Google and AOL have brushed many hairs in the wrong direction.
But apart from just tracking your search records and browsing history, Google has access to so much more of your private data! Some of the more notorious capabilities of Google are:
Recognising email addresses and web links
Have you ever noticed how google can recognize strings in gtalk and automatically make them links? Even mundane strings like ma.tt are recognized to be links to ma.tt. This clearly hows: Google is aggressive trying to recognize more and more of what you are doing. And I wonder if these links contribute to page rank of these sites… maybe that’s why google is so good at search??
Apparently Google can even recognize languages! One day I opened my email (gmail) and found a mail which was phonetically hindi (“hi yaar kya chal raha hai” -> hindi for “Hi friend whats going on?”). And to my surprise, the gmail ads were all in hindi! The ads were offering me “naukri” (job) and links to Indian songs! And that too in Indic scripts!! Clearly they have record of my cultural identity! God protect all this information from prying eyes!
Recognising… wait for this: Geographic Addresses!
Yes! I got a few mails that signed off with a real world address, and in the ads section of gmail I get a link that says “Map this”! And when I click it, I am taken to google maps, and taken to the location in mail. Cool! Now they know where I conduct my business!!
Just off-topic: In contrast with this approach of logging ALL activity, the recent search engine Cuil chooses not to log anything at all about its users except their count. Perhaps this is a move to attract more users. Or maybe they just don’t have the database resources to it 😛 . I’ll soon be writing about Cuil too. Watch out!