The Bullfighters EULA
If you use ANY of Google's services (like searching for a blog about Google), you've already agreed to their basic terms of service, including tracking what you're searching for and targeting ads based on that search, regardless of whether you're logged in. (See the full Google TOS.)
As soon as you set up an account to do anything with any of Google's properties, like watch a video that 'some may find objectionable' on Youtube, you open up another set of rules. Now they can track what computers you're accessing their services from, so now they know where you search for 'girls on the beach' versus 'fixing a leaky garden hose.' And, with a little Internet magic, they have a pretty good idea exactly where those computers are.
So, now you've let them know what you search for, where you live and where you work.
Next comes 'protecting your account' by giving them your cell phone number. Seems every other time I log in they ask me for my cell phone number, which surprises me because I know they already have it in either my address book or because I have an Android phone. While they say, and I quote, We will never share your number or use it to send you unwanted messages. We promise. those promises are only as good as the current Terms of Service and those terms can change at their whim (see my blog Facebook owns this title).
And if you use a service like Google Docs, well… they own that too. Which means now they know not only where you live, work, your cell phone number, and what kind of stuff makes you chuckle, they know what you're doing for a living and what kinds of stuff you're pitching and to whom. Not that they bother looking… but they could, so they might.
I've never liked the implied acceptance of terms of service, but then you come to the Android apps. I honestly think that Google is trying to do the right thing by letting forcing you to accept the basic stuff you're letting programmers do with your phone, but it's frightening…
For example, the Google+ App tells you that it wants (among other things):
- Full internet access
- Your Location (GPS)
- Your Address book
- Usernames for other services you're using like Facebook and Twitter
- How often you back up your phone
- What you're reading through feeds
But, all this OH MY GOD GOOGLE IS TAKING OVER THE UNIVERSE got me thinking about a couple things… First, say Google does do something nefarious with my data. What am I going to do? Sue a multi-billion dollar international company? It better be pretty life changing to warrant me going bankrupt to take on that kind of behemoth.
And then there's the computer I actually do all my work on that uses Microsoft Windows. If I download a program from the Internet to say, play scrabble or write documents, I don't even have an implied terms of service, I just open the doors and let them do anything they want. And I've been doing that for years.
As long as technology is more complicated than an antelope thighbone that I use to knock a squirrel unconscious, I'm always going to be giving someone, somewhere, my implied trust that they aren't going to use the Android App to knock me unconscious.
Besides, I think the FBI has a pretty good idea of what I'm up to without having to ask Google.