by Emi F '09

But You Don’t Know Me Like That

Yes, they do. They know that you like Michael Jack­son, they know you are pregnant, and they know your boyfriend cheated on you with your mother. How do they know? Well, the truth is that if you’re a Gmail user, Google has the right to all of your e-mails, incoming and outgoing, your address, your state, and lots of other personal information. Clearly peo­ple who create an account with them know this, yet they are utterly unaware of what Google may be doing with the information. They naively trust the world of the networking busi­ness to protect them more fervently than they do their pockets. Thus, this article is not to scare you but to adequately inform so much of you that have been living in a utopia where businessmen can actually be trusted.

Many of us know the tedious process of creat­ing online accounts. The company asks for name, address, etc, which in technology nerd jargon is PII- Personal Identifiable Information. Interestingly enough, we disseminate this information trusting that this company will abide by their ‘Terms of Agreement,” the super-long, grueling-to-even-think-about reading that explains how they will keep our stuff private. How then will they keep it private? Will they place it in a safe in their closet? Under their bed? In an envelope locked in their file cabinet? Absolutely not. Companies such as Google, with an almost overwhelming subscription and usage rate place our information in databases which are often insecure and easily accessed. Though not very alarming to many yet, it does when they see their addresses and phone numbers eas­ily accessed through the Google search engine all because they searched in Google Maps once to try to get somewhere. Ok, well what if you do not feel that being looked up and found on Google, is an invasion of privacy but simply believe that “it makes it easier for long lost people to find me…no biggie.” This may be so, but imagine having your chats with other users read, your searches monitored and saved, the company easily scanning through your e-mail, your plan for these weekends exposed to weirdo’s at Google who know where your house is…shall I continue?

Being that Google is an immense company with millions of users a day, they need more than just paper and pen to write down people’s informa­tion; not only PII but the user’s interests, dislikes, illnesses and much more. That is why it is kept in large systems called data­bases. This database holds records and tables dedi­cated solely to the things exposed by your answered polls, web-site results, things written in private e-mails and/or chats. In general, the PII composes itself of all of these things which are optionally given by the user. However, many of Google’s web util­ities have software called cookies which download themselves onto your com­puter while you visit that page. Having these cookies on your computer allows Google to have further ac­cess of the user’s personal files: musical preference by searching through your music libraries, e-mails, etc. If at any time you would like to stop these from coming into your computer it is possible for you to go  to the toolbar on your internet window select tools, go down to ‘Internet Options,’ select

‘Privacy,’ and choose what level on the scale you would like your security to reach. This tool even allows you to restrict cookies from selective websites. Last but not least, you press apply and are as guaranteed as much privacy as you could have on such an immensely populated network.

As wrong as Google may seem to be, the truth is that because users are enter­ing  and agreeing to their ‘Terms of Agreement,’ they have the right to manage their company as they wish, taking lightly yet following the jaded fourth amendment declar­ing or rights to privacy. In conclusion, it is our duty to break free from the captiv­ity of our trusting naiveté and protect ourselves from Google’s invasion of our privacy in as many ways possible.



By Mr. Lakhaney

TOK Teacher

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