Last week I wrote about the powerful ways your cell phone betrays your every confidence. Google is one of many technology companies that collects and monetizes your personal information. Remember, if you aren't paying for the product, you are the product.
Here are some simple steps you can take to cut down on what Google, specifically, tracks when it comes to your physical and virtual travels.
On your computer, go to myaccount.google.com If you are not already, login to your google account
Click the "Data & Personalization" tab on the left side of the screen.
There you can either "Take the Privacy Check Up", which will walk you through the various categories of information that Google collects and allows you to opt out, or you can self-manage your information in the "Activity Controls" menu.
If you elect self-mange, click the "Manage your activity controls" link. From their you can activate or pause (turn off) tracking. .
From the "Manage your activity controls" link, you can toggle on (blue) or off (grey) tracking. You can also click the manage activity link to customize your options.
If you elect to opt out, all of your activities will show up as "Paused."
This is no guaranteed that a new iteration of the apps or new apps or different apps won't track your information. Indeed, there is currently no law that requires a company to even allow an opt out. It's a voluntary thing for now. But this is one way to edit your digital footprint. It may come with limitations on the robustness of your Google experience. For example, you may no longer get automatic recommendations relevant to where you are. Or the videos that youtube suggests may no longer be relevant to your interests. Deciding how much of your information to share with these providers is a personal decision, but it is important enough that understanding that you need to make a decision - and knowing how to carry it out -- is something worth knowing.