I had heard in the past that Google “knew” things about me, about everyone who ever typed “www.google.com” into their web browser. I didn’t care, I just wanted information.
Later, Google added new features, Google Earth, Gmail, Picassa, Google Video (and YouTube, which Google bought), among myriad other things.
Now, with your IP address (and email address) Google can figure out who you talk to, where you live, who you know, where you like to go… just by your history on Google’s products.
One of the points Mr. Conti makes is that Google keeps a backup of your Gmail email… even if you delete it.
I don’t believe Greg Conti is paranoid, sometimes “they” really are after you. With Google, you’re never more than a mouse click away from being found by someone.
Google doesn’t know whether or not you want that person to find you.
I remember a few years ago finding an email in my Gmail inbox from someone who was researching some topic (the topic isn’t important) and, like most other people, Googled it. One of the top results for his search was a post I had made on a website years ago asking the same question he was seeking an answer to.
In the pursuit of knowledge, he emailed me asking if I ever found the answer, and if so, to tell him.
While I enjoyed this use of Google, the thought came to me that this tool could be used for evil ends as well.
This possibility is what Mr. Conti’s book is about.
By using Google Maps, you make a mark on the Internet that you want to go from point A to B. Most point A’s are a person’s own home. Further, emailng a link to other people for that map has problems of its own. When a second party goes to the link you’ve created, it logs their IP address too. So one could easily guess that you and the person you sent the link to would be at the location mapped soon, if not in a few days.
Another map example is that “sensitive” sites in Google Earth are often blocked out or pixelated where you can’t see what it is, which, of course, draws more attention to the location.
Google is a company founded by humans, used by humans. As such, through error or malice, information can be leaked, and will most likely happen sooner, if not later.
In the end, I loved this book, even though it scared me in some respects. In this digital world, some of us need to be scared into thinking “big brother is watching.”