Google & Privacy

I’ve written about my mental struggle with justifying the use of Google products/services vs privacy concerns. In the past, I’ve noted that lots of tech podcasters/writers use Google products, especially Docs & Photos. I often hear those same people often rather sheepishly admit to using Chrome.

Since Apple began the use of privacy labels, there are more & more articles detailing how much information Google is mining. I see the description “staggering” used when describing how much info they are gathering. Yet I also read that they are not giving this info directly to advertisers, rather they are creating something akin to focus groups that advertisers would like to target.

Given this information, is it still worth using Google products? It seems to me that using an android or especially a Pixel (the horrors!) phone is like handing over the details of your daily existence to Google. I find Stacey, Leo, Ant, & Jeff, the usual suspects on TWIG to be very schooled in tech, yet they often seem to whistle past the graveyard when it comes to the privacy aspects of Google products.

Google often seems to get a pass on privacy, which I write off to the usefulness of their services, and Facebook is vilified. Leo expresses his dislike, and non-use of Facebook, but often talks about how many GB’s of photos he has on Google Photos.

Maybe there is no solid answer to this question. I wonder if there is more talk about this privacy issue since Google will be putting a cap on photos. Is it ok to use it when it’s free, but when you have to pay, suddenly questions should be raised? What if Google Docs counted toward storage? Would that create an avalanche of concern over privacy?

I often read that even though I’m leading a relatively average life, I should still be concerned about privacy. But then I see or hear that those very same people telling me that are writing their articles on Google Docs, or posting their contact info as a Gmail address, while organizing their pics on Google Photos.

What do you think?

Well what is the effect of them having your information? Why do they want it and gather it? It’s to advertise to you. I would be WAY more worried about Amazon that I would be about Google, given that Amazon is in businesses like medical, insurance and financial services.

That’s just my two cents, thou… everyone must find their own level of comfort. I do take steps to make Google’s information gathering about me more difficult and/or more piecemeal.

I restrict Google as much as possible in my life (and Facebook). Great swathes of Google’s and all of Facebook’s domains (Facebook alone has around 2,500 tracking domains), along with around 2.5 million other tracking and known malware domains are blocked at the DNS level on my network.

My phone, a Samsung Android phone, has all Google services deinstalled or deactivated and as shut down as possible. I don’t use Chrome on my Android phone, it is deactivated, I use Firefox and Brave. I use DuckDuckGo for search.

I use a German cloud service at the moment for the storage of my data. My Gmail email address is only used for registration of dodgy sites. Any important email goes through one of my “real” email addresses.

I also try and keep Amazon to a minimum, but a lot of products at the moment are only available on Amazon, although I try and find local alternatives or other online shops that sell the same products, but it is often difficult to do so.

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