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Do You Know Who's Watching You?


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Google privacy infographic


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WordStream is an Internet marketing software company, specializing in pay-per-click advertising software and a suite of SEO tools, which contains a FREE keyword tool for discovering profitable keywords, including long tail keywords for SEO and PPC.


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Internet Privacy: Is Your Right to Privacy Threatened?

At WordStream, we recognize that retaining privacy on the internet has become an increasingly difficult task. We made this infographic to provide information and illustrate the internet privacy issues that continue to be a concern for online users.

Online privacy is continuously threatened, as evidenced by Facebook's constant changes to its online privacy policies. The default for Facebook privacy settings is no privacy at all: your data is available for all the world to see. You can change the settings, but Facebook buries these settings and makes it difficult for users to protect their personal information.

As illustrated by our infographic, Facebook's altering of the default privacy setting results in serious internet privacy issues as more users end up sharing more of their private information, often without realizing the changes that have taken place.

Google and Privacy: Does Street View Help Burglars?

Google's Street View project has also brought up an array of privacy concerns. In one report, 57% of people surveyed considered Google Street View a privacy intrusion on their personal rights. Numerous photos were captured of people involved in personal or intimate moments and unsavory activities (examples include people picking up prostitutes and couples engaging in sex).

Many also worry about the potential security threat that results from Google Street View. Street View offers burglars a potential opportunity to scout out a home's defenses and surroundings before a break-in.  Similar security issues also originally arose in regards to the protection of military bases, although Google complied with the Department of Defense's request that Google take down content of bases.

While some European countries have laws prohibiting filming individuals on public property without consent, the law of the United States claims that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place, enabling Google Street View to continue unquestioned.

One of Google's answers to privacy concerns has been an agreement to blur the face visibility of people appearing in Street View, allowing for some anonymity. 

 Privacy and Google: The Failure of Google Buzz

Google Buzz served as an example of Google privacy settings at their worst – Google Buzz, without asking, would publish personal networks for users based on the people they seemed to interact with most. This allowed users to see who was e-mailing who and showed personal email addresses, bringing up serious Google privacy issues

Google Privacy Concerns: The New Privacy Policy of 2012

In January 2012, the historic search engine Google announced that it would combine the separate Google privacy policies for each of Google's services into one, all encompassing new internet privacy policy. This declaration was met with plenty of scrutiny by those of the general "Google is evil" mindset, bringing up numerous Google privacy issues.

While the new Google privacy policy does not allow the search engine to collect more information about users than before, it allows Google to do more with the private information collected across various Google services. The merging of personal data allows Google to develop more comprehensive and informed results for users by taking into account their activities on YouTube, Google+, Gmail, Web Search History, and analyzing keyword search sessions.

Many might not be bothered by this practice, and Google asserts that the collected data allows Google to deliver a more simple and accurate experience for users, such as implementing keyword analysis into the auto-complete Google suggestion tool. However, others are fearful of threatened anonymity and don't appreciate their personal data being used for advertising purposes.

Privacy on Google: Data is Worth Big Money

Data is extremely valuable in the advertising world, and the compiled, comprehensive user data Google will have access to under the new Google privacy settings is as good as gold because the new privacy policy allows for more targeted advertising and a better Google keyword suggestion tool.

Before the Google privacy policy change, a user's search experience would not be influenced by the user's previous videos watched in YouTube, and vice versa. With the new Google privacy settings, if Google knows that a user has searched for cooking instruction keywords on the web, YouTube might display cooking videos next time a user visits YouTube. The pay-per-click advertising implications of this could be huge.

Google privacy issues become particularly problematic in that Google is not allowing for users to refuse the new privacy mandate. Starting March 1st, 2012, all Google users are subject to having their data collected and compiled, whether they agree with this practice or not.

Google Privacy Online: Protecting Your Personal Data

If you are displeased with Google, the best way you can still retain some anonymity is by not logging into Google services.  You can also erase your browsing history and block Google from collecting keyword research data about your search queries.

The other problem with Google's new privacy policy is that Google often sets the standard for other internet power players and social media platforms. If Google is demanding collection of compiled data from users, others will do the same, making protecting your personal data and retaining internet privacy increasingly difficult.

SOPA and PIPA: Internet Privacy Under Attack

Preserving privacy on the internet has become a increasingly difficult task as users grow more comfortable with giving out their personal information, and accept the increasingly large role the internet and social media platforms play in their lives.

Thankfully, lack of privacy and rights on the internet is not a complete given – in January 2012 there was a tremendous backlash against two bills, SOPA and PIPA, which greatly threatened internet privacy and garnered tremendous news attention.

SOPA and PIPA were dangerous bills for a number of reasons, but one major internet privacy issue was that the bills would require internet service providers to check customers' IP addresses if the customers was found to be engaged with infringing websites. Many feared that this would eventually lead to invasive practices in which users would have all of their internet activity monitored.

Facebook vs Google Privacy

Facebook has slowly over the years opened up private user data to advertisers as a means to better monetize. While it is possible to obfuscate personally identifiable information, the default setting of your Facebook Profile is public. As a result, Facebook related crimes have become more and more common as criminals gain access of personal information on their targets, ranging from their home address, phone number, to even where they are based on how recent their wall posts are.

Similarly, Google has also received backlash for the invasion of privacy caused by Google Street View. It was found that in addition to taking photographs of private property, data from unencrypted wifi connections were also collected by Google's cars. In both of these cases, the biggest privacy watchdogs have been government agencies and privacy advocate groups.

When the biggest names on the internet are both failing to protect its users privacy, it's not a matter of comparing facebook vs google - who's doing it better at protecting your privacy - but a matter of how you can best protect yourself.

You can read our complete SOPA and PIPA guide here for information and resources about these bills and internet security.

 
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