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Google's mandatory location profiling/tracking

Google won't allow you to opt-out of their location tracking for search, we learn from CNET's Chris Matyszczyk's outstanding post "How Google stops you hiding your location."

  • Kudos to Mr. Matyszczyk for spotlighting this latest "creepy line" Google default mandate.

What does this mean?

First, it means that Google has not learned much from its serial privacy problems, like Google setting a default that everyone's house should be included in StreetView photographing and Spi-Fi signal recording, and everyone that signed up for Google Buzz by default should share their Gmail addresses with the public.

Second, it means that Google profiles and tracks your location by default and that you can't opt out from Google knowing where you are, you can only select what local setting Google will use to customize your search results.

 

  • From Google's help page:
    • "The customization of search results based on location is an important component of a consistent, high quality search experience. Therefore, we haven't provided a way to turn off location customization, although we've made it easy for you to set your own location or to customize using a general location as broad as the country that matches your local domain."
  • Translation, we know what's best for you and we will always know where you are, even if you don't want to be reminded that we know where you are.
  • It is also important to note that Google did not say you can make your location private or be anonymous to Google. 

 

Third, its a reminder that Google is all about giving people no real privacy choice, but to be part of Google's "Total Information Awareness Power," and that Google's business model is track-to-target advertising.

Fourth, this lack of choice to truly opt-out of Google's track-to-target model, makes a mockery of the purported privacy choice in Google's so-called "privacy dashboard" and its "Data Liberation Front" efforts.

In sum, Google's core privacy problem is that they believe in publicacy by default, not privacy by default.

  • It also is amazing how Google opposes popular Do Not Track legislation that would allow users to not be tracked online, but seems to be doing everything it can to make people want Do Not Track legislation more.
  • Google remains its own worst enemy.

 

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