Google has become arguably the most prolific company in history, primarily because of its advanced data collection ability. Think about it, Google's entire business is based off of collection of data from a huge number of sources from websites down to its users.
Google has an insane number of ways that it's getting information outside of its classic search engine, like gmail, docs, calendar, maps, youtube, socially via Google Plus and even phone data from Google Voice. Once the enormity of the data net that Google has, the question becomes does Google know too much about people?
Over the past 3 years the search giant has been embroiled in a massive antitrust & privacy case with the European Union. This however is far from the first controversy Google has faced in its data collection practices.
From Safe Choice Security
One of the most prominent and disturbing issues involving a Google data collection method surrounded its streetview cars used to take pictures for Google Maps. Between 2006 and 2010 streetview cars were collecting data from unsecured wi-fi networks it drove by. In that time frame Google collected over 600 gigabytes of usage and browsing data from wi-fi networks. The FCC came down hard on Google once this practice was exposed and was forced to pay $7 Million in fines for unauthorized collection of personal data, however was not forced to relinquish or destroy the data.
More recently, the FTC handed down a $22.5 Million settlement when it was found that cookies from Google's ad network DoubleClick were setup to bypass privacy settings in the Safari to allow tracking even if Safari had been setup to block 3rd party cookies.
Is Your Data Going to Big Brother?
One thing that may be very surprising to users of Google is the amount of information they provide over to the US Government every year. Due to the Electronics Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986, any data older than 180 days is considered "abondoned" allowing government agencies to request and seize data without a warrant. The total number of requests by the government of data from Google has risen steadily since 2009 when there were 3,580 request from July to December of that year to an astounding 8,438 during the same months in 2012. On top of this Google has complied with near 90% of these requests!
So does Google know too much about its users and is it exploiting this data on purpose? Share your thoughts in the comments below.