With the upcoming changes in Google’s privacy policies, I’ve been digging around to see what they’re up to. From March 1, they will combine 60 separate privacy policies into one, amalgamating the data from all their products into a single marketing treasure trove. To Serve Man, apparently. I had posted a full YouTube episode, but the scumbags at CBS had it taken down.
Now I’m not suggesting that Google is controlled by space aliens who want to add us to their menu. Not quite. But Google does have an endless appetite for our user data, including marketing preferences and where we like to travel on the Internet. Which is very useful for targeting us with advertising crap. So if they have an integrated user profile, gleaned from every Google product you use, then the advertising crap just hit a much bigger fan.
While I like many of their products – Gmail, Google+, and Google are brilliant – there are some things up with which I will not put. So I use Adblock Plus for the advertising crap and Ghostery to block the Web’s creepy crawlies from tracking my movements.
Unfortunately, Google can still gather data about me. I can stop them from using it as advertising fodder by disabling Web History, but it’s still available for internal use, being anonymized after 18 months. They have another sneaky trick up their sleeves, though, and it’s not something Google likes to draw attention to. Did you know that they tell the website you’re going to where you’ve just come from? So do many other browsers. Google appararently stopped doing this for a while, until the outraged squawks of their advertisers prompted a U-turn.
It was only when I stumbled across DuckDuckGo that I discovered Google were doing this. DuckDuckGo (Wiki entry) doesn’t track users, and it doesn’t try to personalize the hits to what it thinks you might be looking for. I know some people like that, but to me it’s patronizing and an insult to my intelligence to think that I can’t handle challenging ideas.
So I’m using DuckDuckGo exclusively now. I love the name, which is pure Dada, and the uncorporate feel there is to this search engine. If it all goes pear-shaped, you will be first to know.