In addition to 60 Minutes’ excellent report, I’d like to point out that Google makes most of the products that people use to interact with the internet on a daily bases. Here are the ones I could think of off the top of my head.
- Google Search: the most used search engine in the world.
- Android: the operating system of choice for 80% of the world’s population. This gives access to phone calls, SMS texts, what apps and games are installed, and the location of everyone who uses it.
- Chrome: the web browser that most people use most of the time.
- YouTube: by far the biggest social video service.
- Google Maps: the most used mapping service in the world.
- Gmail: one of, if not the most used email system in the world.
- Hangouts, Chat, etc: huge communications platforms. I’ve lost track of all the different apps they have like this.
- Doubleclick & Adwords: probably the first and second biggest ad platforms in the world (besides maybe Facebook).
- Adsense: a service for putting ads on web sites other than Google’s.
- Google Analytics: the most used web traffic statistics and analysis framework.
Google has access to every endpoint on the internet and a whole lot more. I’ve been moving further and further from using their services and software for personal activity, but as a web developer, I can’t avoid it professionally. If I can make one recommendation, try DuckDuckGo for search. I use it for everything and am quite happy with it. DuckDuckGo famously don’t track people and their searches, and still manage to get great search results. With the recent breaches from Facebook and their Cambridge Analytica fiasco, I shouldn’t have to explain how our online activity and personal information can be used in nefarious ways.
Note: I don’t use Google Analytics (or any other analytics on my personal websites), but I am fully aware that the YouTube videos embedded on this site report back to Google. I try to avoid that kind of thing, but it’s nearly impossible right now.