Google collects data

Google collects data, let us find out what data Google collects in this blog post.

In my previous post, which you can find here, I already discussed Google Chrome in relation to stored passwords. In this post we dive a little more into what data Google collects when you use their products.

Google

I think we all know Google. Many people use it to search the internet. Other people use Gmail, or Google Maps, or Google Drive, or Google Chrome, or YouTube. As you see, it is pretty difficult to not use Google. And this is not even a complete list of their products.

The big question is of course, is this good or bad?

Well, that depends. The good side is that all these products are free to use. On the other side, the company Alphabet is listed on a stock exchange. That should mean that the company has to make money. Now, if their products are for free, how do they make money? The uncomfortable answer is, in a way you are their product.

You as a product

With all these free programs, applications, apps, services or tools they collect a lot of information about you. And even better, they can store this information as long as they want. Yes, that is correct, they store your information permanently.

One could argue that this is an attack on your privacy.

So, what does Google collect?

Google the search engine

Google collects data about your internet search activities. This includes not only what you are searching, but also when you are searching. With this information Google can improve their search algorithms. This in turn is used to target ads more effectively.

Here are some examples of the types of data that Google Search may collect:

Search queries, like keywords, search terms and language preferences to understand your intent and provide relevant search results.

Search history, if you signed in to your Google account, your search history may be logged and stored for personalized search suggestions, improve search accuracy, and search history autocomplete.

Location data, for location-based search results, local business listings, and directions. This improves the relevance and accuracy of search results, especially for queries related to nearby businesses or services.

Device information, like hardware model, operating system version, browser type, device identifiers.

Your IP Address, for general location information, prevent abuse and fraud, personalize search results based on regional preferences or restrictions.

Your interactions with search results, like clicks, time spent on a page, engagement metrics. This evaluates and improves the relevance and quality of search results.

Cookies, web beacons, and other tracking technologies collect information on your browsing behavior, preferences, and interests across Google services and third-party websites.

Google chrome

Like many other web browsers, Chrome collects various types of data to provide and improve its services. Here are some of the types of data that Google chrome may collect:

Browsing history about the websites you visit to improve browsing experience, provide suggestions, and autocomplete in the address bar.

Cookies and site data from websites you visit to remember preferences, settings, and login information.

Cache webpages, images, and other resources to improve loading times and performance when revisiting websites.

Log your search queries to improve search results and personalize your experience.

Usage statistics and crash reports to identify and fix issues, and to improve features and performance.

Device information, like hardware model, operating system version, browser type, device identifiers.

Location data, if enabled, for location-based services and improve relevant search results.

Synced data, if sync enabled, your browsing history, bookmarks, passwords, and other settings to provide a consistent experience.

Location data by Google maps

If you use this app to see where you are, it is clear that the app has access to your location. But what if you are not actively using the app? Can it collect your location data? Well, if you have location services enabled and granted Google Maps permission to access your location in the background, yes, it does collect this data.

Location data, the location of your device, for mapping and navigation services. This includes GPS data, Wi-Fi access point information, and cell tower triangulation to determine your approximate location.

Search queries, including keywords, search terms, and location context, to provide relevant search results and suggestions.

Route information about the routes you take, including start and end points, waypoints, travel mode (driving, walking, public transit), and real-time traffic conditions, to provide navigation directions and estimate travel times.

Location history, if enabled, may collect and store your location history data for personalized features, like route recommendations, location-based reminders, and timeline views of your travels.

User contributions, like reviews, ratings, photos, and business information may be collected and displayed to enhance the accuracy and usefulness of mapping data.

Device information, like hardware model, operating system version, browser type, device identifiers.

Usage statistics and crash reports to identify and fix issues, and to improve features and performance.

Cookies, web beacons, and other tracking technologies collect information on your interactions with the service, such as clicks, zoom levels, and map views, to improve mapping accuracy and user experience.

Location data by photos

But, Google can also extract location data from photos and videos if your device has location services enabled. This information is normally embedded in the metadata of the media files. If you share these photos or videos with Google Photos, the location data may be stored and used by Google to improve search results, provide location-based services, and deliver targeted advertising.

Google stores photos and videos you upload to provide cloud-based storage and backup services. This includes the actual image and video files, as well as metadata like timestamps, file sizes, and file formats.

Metadata associated with your photos and videos, including location information (if available), camera settings, and device information. To organize and categorize your media, and provide context for search and sharing features.

Usage data on how you interact with Google photos, like the features you use, actions you take (uploading, sharing, editing), and preferences you set. To improve the service, identify your needs, and personalize your experience.

Face recognition, to automatically detect and tag faces in your photos. Google may analyze the content of your photos to identify faces and associate them with specific individuals.

Location history, if enabled with location tracking, use location data associated with your photos to organize them by location, provide location-based search features, and offer location-based suggestions.

When you share photos or albums with others through Google photos, it may collect information about the recipients, like email addresses or Google account identifiers, to facilitate sharing and collaboration.

Google Maps and photo-sharing services offer useful features, yet it is important to know how much they track you. This should make you think about privacy in today’s digital world.

Google account information

Google collects various types of information related to your Google account, including your name, email address, phone number, and other contact information provided during the account creation process. Additionally, Google may collect information about your account activity, such as your login history, device information associated with your account, and settings preferences. This information is used to personalize your experience across Google services, secure your account, and provide relevant support and notifications.

So, any information you provide is stored. Google´s date collection does not stop, keep this in mind for any optional information you want to share.

Email data

As a Gmail user, Google collects data related to your email activity, including the content of your emails, attachments, and metadata such as sender and recipient information, timestamps, and email subject lines. This data is used to deliver and improve Gmail services, including spam detection, email categorization, and personalized features like Smart Compose and Smart Reply. Additionally, Google may analyze email data to provide targeted advertising and personalized recommendations across its services.

Email content of your emails, like text, attachments, metadata (sender, recipients, subject, timestamps), to deliver, manage, and secure your emails. Needed for features like search, spam filtering, and inbox organization.

Contacts, like names, email addresses, phone numbers, and other contact details, for email communication, autocomplete addresses, and manage contact lists.

Usage data on how you use Gmail, like actions you take (sending, receiving, deleting emails), features you use (search, labels, filters), settings you configure (forwarding, vacation responder).

Device information like computer, smartphone, tablet type, operating system version, browser type, and device identifiers. To optimize and secure your experience across different devices.

Location data, if enabled, to provide location-based features, like local time zone adjustments and location-based email suggestions.

Cookies and web beacons collect information about your interactions with Gmail, like email opens, clicks, and other engagement metrics. To improve Gmail performance, deliver targeted advertising, and prevent abuse.

Personalization, Google may use email content, contacts, and usage patterns, to personalize your experience, including relevant suggestions, ads, and features. For example, Gmail’s Smart Compose feature suggests email responses based on your writing style and past email conversations.

Google collects data related to email security, as spam detection, malware scanning, and account authentication, to protect Gmail users from threats and abuse.

This is the end of my post on Google collects data.

Take a look at my next post on what Google stores here.

You can view your Google history here.

Disclaimer

All tips and methods mentioned in this blog are tested on Windows 11. Please note that results may vary on other operating systems or versions of Windows. Adapt the instructions accordingly.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post on Google collects data.
I hope you found it enjoyable and insightful.
Stay tuned for more content that is coming soon.

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