I’ve been suspicious of Google ever since the Gmail came into being. However, I was told I was paranoid, and was draw into the social gravitational pull. I have had three incidences with Google: my Gmail has been hacked, poor support with password retrieval, and Google via my Analytics account distributed sensitive personal data across the internet causing me to close the domain. So when I caught wind of this situation I was very interested:
On July 15 2011 you turned off my entire Google account. You had absolutely no reason to do this despite your automated message telling me your system “perceived a violation.” I did not violate any Terms of Service, either Google’s or account specific ToS, and your refusal to provide me with any proof otherwise makes me absolutely certain of this. And I would like to bring to your attention how much damage your carelessness has done.
While in his instance, and in my own Google calamities there was some degree of user error, there should be more options for recourse and support from Google. They make tons of money, they are doing everything they can to corner the market on everything internet related. Yet, when a user has an issue it is impossible to gain access to anyone who actually works for Google. Tied in with their questionable use of personal data, search results, policies in their TOS giving them carte blanche to all of your data I am just done. So if the above letter is not enough to cause concern, or if anyone is skeptical, here are a few more Google stories.
My Gmail was hacked
I have a lot of e-mail accounts, of the ones I actually use only one of them is not hosted through my web server. I have an account that is tied to my name for some of my bills, professional contacts, and for my family. I am not a moron when it comes to selecting passwords. Yet, one day when I logged into my Gmail there was a notice that it was suspected that my account had been hacked. I checked through all of my e-mails and did not see anything suspicious, but I went along and changed my password.
In over a decade of heavy internet use my Gmail is the only thing that has ever been hacked. Like ever. Not a single website, not a single server put online with string and glue, not a single quickly written app. Once I had an e-mail form on my site which I knew was sketchy and some spammers used it, but that’s it in an entire decade! Also, I still don’t know if some super sensitive google bot got triggered and nothing had actually happened, or if there was actual foul play in my account.
Because I was dealing with a family emergency I forgot my Gmail password
A few weeks after my account was hacked my dad took ill and my mother and brother had to go across the country. My dad who was very sick and did not have the best mental status was going to be home alone. My mom sent all the family friends my Gmail address, and my phone number. I am flustered and stressed to begin with, so when I go to log in I forget that I had changed my password. Then for the life of me couldn’t remember what I changed it to. The password reset questions did not work. Even though I did enter the right information.
I spent hours screaming, and banging my head on the keyboard. I tried getting support, but quickly discovered there was none other than a user run forum. That’s right, no number, no online help desk, no support chat with a google rep. At some point I had a revelation that got me back into my account, I don’t remember what it was. Once again in 10 years of internet presence this was the scariest, most awful moments I’ve ever had. To top it off I was likely a few keystrokes away from being permanently locked out of my account at any given moment.
Google Analytics tied my personal registration data with my domain search results
I always try to save the best for last. Prior to this domain I had a similar one which had been online for over 10 years. Thanks to Google I can no longer use it because now there are search results that tie in personal information that I cannot have published on the internet.
A short time after Google Analytics came out I was told it was awesome. I went ahead and registered for an account. On good faith while registering I entered my actual personal information assuming that it was only being used internally within Google.
A few months later I was checking my personal search results and my domain search results. My domain came up with description my personal data. Not with the meta data I had specified in my header section, and never in the history of my domain has my personal data popped up.
I flipped out, assuming that the information had accidentally gotten into my Whois (which I always have set to anonymous), or was somehow in my own code. I checked through every file, checked multiple domain registrars and found nothing. On a whim I logged into my Google Analytics account, and discovered that it had propagated a profile for my domain, using all of my personal registration data. I immediately changed the information, and through up an htaccess to purge the results. However, after several years of checks after taking down the htaccess I discovered the damage was permanent. I attempted to contact Google to try to get those results purged and never got any sort of response.
More Scary Stuff that Google Does
By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.
You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.
Yes, whenever you upload something through a Google service Google gets an irrevocable royalty free license, that also carries to “other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships”.
It goes on an on, there is a great Wikipedia article, on some of Google’s more questionable practices.
I will continue to use Google to search, but I am closing, or no longer using all of my Google accounts and services. I’ll be regularly checking for Google cookies and removing them, and never have an account logged in while searching. Google, Google, you bastard, I’m through. Also, I am still using Google to search, as largely due to them there are few other viable search engines.
Links in This Article
- @thomasmonopoly: Dear Google
- Google+ may carry danger for photographers
- Criticism of Google
- Peeking into Google’s Use of Data
Article title inspired by Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy“