Google has hardly been a champion of personal privacy in the past, but everyone’s favourite search engine may have finally overstepped the mark with its new all encompassing 'services'.
The monopolistic megalomaniac announced yesterday that a major shake-up is afoot to a range of its services. In fact, Google seems to have graduated from acting like a Peeping Tom to something approaching full-on stalker.
Google claims it is getting rid of a load of red tape that will allow seamless service between various facets of its business. Some of this is relatively harmless. For example, it will mean that keywords in Google’s search engine might be used to suggest some videos next time you visit YouTube.
This may not be so worrying. But considering that the Google+ accounts, location and even Gmail content will also feed into searches threatens to cross the line from convenient to just plain creepy. In fact, the way the search engine behaves is about to change quite substantially as of March.
Google is adamant that there are many “cool” things it can do by “combining information” across its products. It may be useful to receive a reminder that you are late for a meeting based on your location, for example.
Aside from wanting to smash your phone into the pavement for giving you a bollocking over your tardiness, it is a sign of Google’s ever increasing influence that is genuinely concerning.
A world of ‘Google Everything’ is no exaggeration. Considering the firm’s alleged abuse of its position with the data-spying debacle and other antics, the level of trust it demands is phenomenal.
Combining your social life, search habits, work and even your general whereabouts, Google is really ramping up its desire to be with you at every moment.
On the face of it, it seems there's not much to be done to fight Google’s changes. It does remind users that it “if you want to take your information elsewhere you can”, but considering Google’s 95 percent hold on European search, such a ‘my way or the highway’ approach is fairly one-sided.
Of course, the reason that Google is keen to delve even further into people’s lives is likely to be reaping greater rewards from ad revenues. Google may claim that it “doesn’t sell your personal information” but it surely will benefit from knowing about you.
Will this be the start of a backlash against the search giant? Considering the way that is has emerged relatively unscathed from serious privacy breaches in the past, it would take a lot for web users to shift away. Given the claustrophobic feeling of Google’s latest intrusions, public perception could begin to shift.