NEW YORK -- For most of us it’s part of our daily routine: a Google search, a hashtag, a like.
Something that seems so simple is silently feeding companies the data they need to aggressively spy on your every move.
The biggest offender by far is Google.
“The bottom line up front is – if you are on the Internet, Google has access to it,” explained cyber security expert Peter Tran.
While Google does not sell your personal information, it does make money off it.
According to Tran, who is the Senior Director at RSA – a cyber security company, users themselves have always given companies the green light to sift through their data.
“They have the right to take your information and use it to third party, or even beyond third, fourth, fifth parties, to recycle it, to use it.”
The terms and conditions many users agree to are often not read, leaving many unaware that their data is being collected and used for mostly profit.”
Ian Wishingrad, advertising expert and founder of the Big Eyed Wish agency, says the practice isn’t anything new and its what he calls “the grand compromise of the internet.”
“For years they’ve been following us and they have accumulated profiles on us,” Wishingrad explained. “You give them data which they then could use to sell items to you through advertisers and you get a cool product for free.”
Free - that is the keyword in all of this.
When you download a free app, sign up to a social networking site, even fill out a profile on a dating site, that intimate information you are volunteering is most certainly being collected, repurposed and shared with third parties all to target you with advertising.
While Google does allow you to modify settings on your searches and browsing activity, they don’t make it easy to completely come off the grid.
Best advice to take: be smarter with who and what you give access to, especially when it comes to apps on your phone.
Some offer an option to log in through your Gmail or Facebook account, and that should raise a red flag.
“To us [that option] seemed like the easiest way to log in but to them now they are in all your websites, understanding what you’re looking at, creating such a robust data profile on you that they can monetize a million ways across the web,” Wishingrad explained.
It’s the reason why a Google inquiry for something like “men’s watches” later resurfaces as an ad on your Instagram feed or in those eerie cases when the internet prematurely acknowledges a stage in your life.
“They know I’m getting married,” Wishingrad revealed. “You know that’s a big one, you know you start seeing those wedding advertisements, its like oh man, they all know so much. But you’re just gonna get numb to it.”
Watch below as PIX11’s Andrew Ramos shows you how to stop Google from tracking you.