Google 'My Activity' is far scarier than Duplex
There has been a lot of concern expressed in response to Google's I/O 2018 demo of its new Duplex technology -- it uses AI to mimic a human persona / voice in order to get tasks done, like booking a table at a restaurant or book a haircut, by being able to respond and interact with a real person on the other end of a phone line. While that opens up a whole ethical can of worms about the future of AI, it is not quite as scary as all the information Google has been logging about your use and interactions with its services.
If you have a Google account, you will want to visit the new My Activity page. Google has set it up in response to new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that is due to come into effect on May 25. Google's services are undoubtedly excellent. Maps, Gmail, Chrome, Docs, Google Now, and Search (among many others) all offer great features. Android users know, for example, that in order to get the most out of their device, it is necessary to allow Google to use your (anonymized) data to offer you real-time advice about your location, travel options, news, the weather and more. What you may not know, however, is that Google has recorded and stored all of this information.
This means that if you have a Google account and are signed in when using its services (including the search function on the Google.com homepage), Google has been storing this data. Are you horrified yet? While it might be interesting, even useful, to view your search history over the years, if anyone hacks into your Google account it will all be exposed. Thankfully, the My Activity page lets you delete everything that Google has ever recorded about your activity, as well as stop it from being recorded in the first instance.
Google warns that deleting this data may affect your experience of its services; but what price is your privacy worth?
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