Google knows what you did last summer.. so does Apple!

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Every individual who uses a computer uses at least one application owned by the IT giant, Google. Google.com is ranked number one in the world and there are 704,402 other websites which drives traffic to Google . It is accessed by billions of users per day. Google is also accessed by smartphones worldwide. The number of smartphone users globally is over 25 million and is expected to reach a billion by 2013. Most of these users use Apple iPhone.This kind of customer base, which probably even exceeds the population of most countries, expects the company to be a lot responsible and ethical. However,with the sole motive to succeed and retain its status quo, these companies have violated the basic ethical measures which they were expected to follow.

BBC reported that Google and Apple iPhones stores information about its users and some information are too personal to be stored. For instance, Apple iPhones stores data, which when used in certain software can produce a detailed map displaying every place the user has been.

Similarly, Google also notes the IP address from where the user accesses the website and also records the browsing behaviour of its users. Basically, Google knows every page its user visits each day, be it through Google.com or not.

It is practically impossible to stop or control these tracking systems, and hence poses a great risk to the privacy of every computer or a smartphone user. The US government questioned and grilled Google and Apple on this issue, and have asked them to follow the global privacy law by not collecting this information without the consent of the users.

Apple has promised to release an update which will add a feature in its iPhones, new and existing, and hence will allow its users to disable the automatic data collection. Google, however, said that during the installation of its program, its privacy statement clearly mentions that they will collect the anonymous data and the application only installs once the user accepts to it.

But the question here is that because software like Google has become an integral part of one’s life, the users are left with no real options. Most computers these days come equipped with Google’s software and accepting to use those computers means accepting to Google privacy policies. If the users do not accept these privacy policies and allow Google to track them, they will not be able to access most of the features a tradition computer is equipped with. It will mean, no search results, no Youtube video and no maps or navigation.

Google realizes this and have adapted an unethical way for maintaining its position. Will there be a way to end Google dictatorship and monopoly? And if the monopoly ends, then how can one be assured that the one who replaces Google will not follow the suit? These questions need to be addressed and there has to be a law in place to not allow such companies to force privacy concerns on its users.

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I'm an eCommerce Project Director at an agency in London and a consultant for a number of eCommerce start-ups. I founded Think etc 9 years ago which now lets me share my research and experience with all the interesting brands, people, places and projects that I have been privileged to work with. My work on crowdsourcing was published by Oxford as part of a journal article and I have been obsessing over eCommerce and Magento over the past several years.

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