Who needs privacy when you have Google?

By Holly New

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a Google addict.

Google is my homepage, and whenever I need to look up anything, it’s my best friend. I even have an Android phone that is powered by (you guessed it) Google. However, my dependency on Google had me wondering about the ramifications of it becoming such an information powerhouse, and after a quick Google search, I’ve come to the conclusion that Google is a little scary.

First of all, Google “reads” our emails. Gmail users will notice little ads around their email, some of which suspiciously resemble the content of our messages: That’s because Google read it. Google admits in its security and privacy policies that it does employ ad targeting.

Rest assured, however, because they write, “Ad targeting in Gmail is fully automated, and no humans read your email or Google Account information in order to show you advertisements or related information.” I’m just not quite sure if that makes me feel better.

Google is also really big—to the point that it might be considered a monopoly. Google recently settled an investigation with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), who “took almost no action on allegations that Google tied its dominance in search to support its other businesses…,” writes Joel West of Seeking Alpha.

“There’s no question that Google skews its search results to benefit companies and services it has a stake in, or that have paid money for the privilege,” said David Futrelle of Time.

Skewing results isn’t fair. Google is using its supreme power to drive consumers to certain products, eliminating competitors in the process. Remember Mapquest? Yeah, me neither.

Finally, Google’s innovations have turned a little Big Brother-ish. A new tool, Google Glass, is basically a pair of glasses that Claire Cain Miller of The New York Times reports “can take pictures or record video hands-free, show walking directions, search the Web and send messages by voice, offer translations and show alerts like a flight delay.”

Despite the possibility of eliminating smartphones or breaching privacy laws by recording people without permission, Google Glass will only feed our connectivity to technology and lessen our ability to separate.

“We want Google to be the third half of your brain,” said Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

I think they’ve taken over the whole thing.

So, even with these negatives, why do I still love Google? It’s really just a wonderful tool. It is probably the easiest method of searching the Internet, putting an endless amount of information at our fingertips. Google is fast, accurate and helps me find what I need.

Just remember, no matter how big and powerful Google gets, there is always an alternative.

“Some say Google is God. Others say Google is Satan. But if they think Google is too powerful, remember that with search engines unlike other companies, all it takes is a single click to go to another search engine,” as Brin put it.