What does Google Know?

Google on iPad

Continuing our The Internet of Things series, we are moving on to the company everyone uses, Google. The search engine powerhouse entered the smart device market with Google Home, and they sold 50 million devices in 2021 alone. Google is no longer just a search engine on your browser.

Google admits listening to your conversations

In 2019, audio captured from its smart technology, Google Assistant was leaked by a partner. This involved over 1,000 conversations that included confidential business calls and personally identifiable information, and no one would want this out there. Google attempted to justify this by stating it only does with 0.2% of recordings to improve its AI systems.

What is most shocking is that 10% of these conversations were not triggered by the “Ok Google” phrase which tells the software to listen for the command. You should feel safe when around these devices, and this leak proves that you must always be careful with your personal data.

What data does Google Assistant store?

You can find out what data Google is taking from you. Finding this data isn’t too difficult and can be found here, and choosing which source data would want to download. One of the team at Protect my Privacy used this and Google keeps a lot more data than you think. Our team member had 15GB of data split into multiple 2GB folders! We have included some of the data that Google takes below.

  • Financial details made on Google Drive
  • Copies of their CV on Google Drive
  • Contact details for friends on a trip they were organising in Google Drive
  • Google Fit data, despite not actively using that app
  • Records of payments made using Google Pay, with the exact amount and location noted
  • Saved loyalty cards on Google Pay
  • Entire order history on Google Play Store including card class, type, expiration and last four digits
  • Home address
  • Orders made through Google Store including amount value, shipping address, tracking details and delivery date
  • Google Keep notes
  • Entire location history
  • Commuting routes
  • Food & drink preferences
  • Podcast subscriptions

This was only part of the data that Google keeps and shows just how much your device knows about you. Imagine someone gaining access to this?

Google Assistant

How to adjust your privacy settings

Thankfully, there is a way to stop your data from being stored on Google’s servers. Just follow the steps below!

  1. Select the account avatar at the top-right of the Google Home app.
  2. In the pop-up window, select ‘Assistant Settings’
  3. Select ‘Your Data’ in the Assistant.
  4. Select Web & App Activity and set your desired privacy settings.

Big companies like Google claim that they are leading the charge for online privacy, but the 2019 leak of Google Assistant data prove that your data is still at risk.

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