By Doug Miller
One of the big issues for the CNIL is the lack of control for the user over the amount of data that is collected when you use a Google cloud service or how that data can be used. There is no opt-out for users if they don’t want their browsing habits and internet content mined for the purpose of enhancing Google’s search or displaying more relevant Google ads.
Google’s answer to this is “competition is one click away.” If you don’t like how Google treats your private data then you can use someone else’s product.
Yet this answer does not ring true for users who are forced to use Google’s services because their employer or school has adopted Google Apps for Business, Education and Government. In this case, your employer or school has signed up for Google Apps but you, as the user, are the one who has to live with the data mining that goes on every time you use the service. Somehow this does not seem right. All Google Apps organizations that pay for these services and their users should have the ability to not pass any data back to Google beyond what is needed to run the service they have signed up for.
So, you may ask, what has this got to do with having an email account for a business or school, or creating documents for a government job? Well – nothing actually. None of this is required for providing these services. You could even go so far as to say that this is none of Google’s business. Yet in reality, this is exactly Google’s business. This data collection is purely to benefit Google – the company that has stated it wants to organize the world’s information (including all of your information) and the company that makes about $40 billion a year from advertising based on leveraging all that data that it has “organized.”
The Europeans are onto something here and we in North America need to pay attention. As individuals, students and workers, we cannot afford to let this become the norm for cloud services. Google, give us our digital lives back and let us opt out from your data mining machine.