Google Is An Even Bigger Privacy Nightmare Than You Think

It’s no secret that one of the biggest tech companies in the world gobbles up our data, with and without our consent, and uses it in a bunch of different ways, some of which you might find unscrupulous. Google has accidentally collected children's voice data, leaked the trips and home addresses of car pool users, and made YouTube recommendations based on users’ deleted watch history, among thousands of other employee-reported privacy incidents. Individually, the incidents — most of which have not been previously publicly reported — may only impact a relatively small number of people, or were fixed quickly. Taken as a whole, though, the internal database shows how one of the most powerful and important companies in the world manages, and often mismanages, a staggering amount of personal, sensitive data on people's lives. The most egregious incident impacted people who weren't actively using a Google service in the first place. Google's Street View feature transcribed and saved license plate numbers alongside geolocation information. That's a pretty big mistake because the company is supposed to censor identifying information like faces, license plates, and, of course, where in the world you happened to be when that Street View photo was taken. The truth is, the search giant owns a piece of all of our data in some way, shape, or form, so when one of their products has an issue, whether it involves revealing censored images, logging audio from users, or storing private data with geolocation tags, it's going to affect an outsized number of people. It doesn’t matter if you pledge to swear off using Google products for good, you can still have your license plate scraped and stored by Street View. There’s no getting around it: Google is now everywhere and they’re just too big to avoid.