It's not just hackers that make a habit of scooping your information. Google has had a notoriously dodgy record when it comes to user internet privacy – and some think it might have finally gone too far.
At this point, most of us accept that the marketplace is watching us all the time, or else we remain blissfully ignorant. Ads that respond to your browsing history are one thing, though: a company driving through your neighborhood and stealing your data is another. Thirty-eight states brought a case against the internet search giant recently for violating data privacy. Google has been charged a $7 million fine and will supposedly take efforts to stay further from user information. In the meantime, this action should serve as a reminder of how available your passwords, email conversations, and messages are.
What did Google do, exactly? Well, in creating its Street View mapping system, it sent wired cars traveling down roads and through neighborhoods across the country to take pictures. But while it was doing that, it was also pilfering data from the unencrypted routers of businesses and families, who remained completely oblivious. And though the company has said it's sorry, the impending arrival of "Google Glass" which will effectively stick a recording device on everyone's face, has privacy advocates worried, especially since Google already racked up a fine from the FTC of more than $22 million last year. Remember: every email, call, and text you send is being monitored.
Businesses, medical centers, homes – how many go by every day with their information exposed?
The danger isn't just that our online privacy is at risk. It's that we don't know it is, or even worse, we don't care. Those who plunder your digital storehouse can take advantage of your apathy or cluelessness. It's up to us to make sure we take the right precautions and not lose our passion for protecting our assets – and our money.
John Sileo is an online privacy expert and keynote speaker on digital security, identity theft and social media. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.