Google’s made billions off its search and advertising business, providing the online masses with the roadmap and tools they need to navigate the Internet. Everything from e-mail and directions to news feeds and free videos are synonymous with its brand.
But Datamation has the lowdown on something most of us don’t even consider: Google’s getting a ton of critical information—sometimes illegally—from all of us to expand its online empire into new and even more lucrative markets. And it’s getting all this valuable data for free.
Google took plenty of heat when it was revealed that its Street View service was, according to co-founder Sergey Brin, “accidentally” collecting tons of data from Internet users’ Wi-Fi networks.
Giving Google the benefit of the doubt, even if it wasn’t intending to capture the contents of users’ Internet traffic, it surely was doing a fine and definitely intended job of correlating these individual Wi-Fi networks to specific locations to help it build a database enhances or substitutes for GPS location.
All this free information, be it from CAPTCHAs that help Google’s scanning systems better identify words to sell books or images of your home, is enriching the company that’s pocketing billions every quarter.
Everybody knows that Google offers lots of free services. Many are ad-supported. Others aren’t. They’re just free products that we can all use as a kind of publicly provisioned resource.
That’s how most of us see Google. But guess what? That’s how Google sees you, too.
You may or may not be a Google user. But Google is definitely using you.