In Google we trust

On Monday night, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Four Corners program aired a story entitled In Google we trust.

Every hour of every day, our digital interactions are being recorded and logged. We live in the age of ‘big data’, where seemingly mundane information about how we go about our lives has enormous value.

Four Corners, with the help of expert data trackers, we follow the information trail of an ordinary Australian family. We follow their data over a typical day, watching as it is surreptitiously recorded by government agencies and private organisations.

Who gathers the information, what are they doing with it and what are your legal rights?

Watch the video here.

Third party apps and privacy

Two weeks ago I was the victim of cyberfraud. I pride myself on my internet skills and cybersafety and yet I was caught out. What happened, you ask?

I was using a third party app, giving permission for that app to use my Google credentials. The app itself seemed to be down, so I logged into the app’s website. Almost instantaneously, I could see emails being sent out under my email address directing everybody (over 500 people) in my address book to a dubious link. Although I changed my Google password immediately and revoked the third party app access, the damage had been done.

I’d like to think that I was a trusted contact of all of those 500 people. And unfortunately, that’s why some of my contacts clicked on the link in the rogue email. Because of that, some of that trust has now been diminished.

So my advice is review all of the third party apps you use, whether it be Google, Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites. Consider revoking access to some of the sites you don’t use very often or are suspicious about. Think twice before you allow a new third party app to use/see your data. Change your password regularly. And never click on a link that you deem suspicious.

How computers are doing our thinking for us

In a slightly scary article, the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that computers are doing are thinking for us. What we search for and what we like is being recorded by companies like Google and Facebook. In turn, our search results are being skewed to results that Google and Facebook thinks we want, based on our previous history.

But what are we missing out on when algorithms decide what we should consume? That’s a question author Eli Pariser tried to answer in his 2011 book The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You. In it he points out that the formation of filter bubbles on the web could be harmful, especially if internet users are not aware of their existence.

Read the whole article here.

Google Drive

Today Google announced that Google Docs would be changing to Google Drive (for Australians, at least). Back in May, The Australian reported that

Google Drive’s online storage terms and conditions are clouded.

and business owners and individuals pressed Google to change their terms and conditions. To date, this has not been done. The Australian article continues:

But businesses and individuals are being cautioned about storing files on Google Drive. Google says users own their data stored online and retain intellectual rights, but its terms and conditions say the company retains a right to use the information.

For individuals, it’s handy to be aware of the specifics of Google’s terms and conditions, including:

By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, modify, publish and distribute such Content on Google services for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting Google services. Google reserves the right to syndicate Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services and use that Content in connection with any service offered by Google.

Google has made itself pretty indispensable in the lives of many people and the question now is, can we live without them or shall we just wear their terms and conditions? Will the terms and conditions really affect us? Only time will tell.

G+ tips

McAfee, the security company, has posted tips on Google+ from the point of view of a mother. Tips include:

1)If your13 year old wants to join G+, give permission only after helping him/her to join the teen circle

2) Install security software like McAfee Total Protection so that you can exercise parental controls and receive alerts on their online activities

3) Find out more about G+, like circles, hangouts, and who can see the posts or contact the teens

4) Set sharing and chatting limits in collaboration with your child. You must simultaneously decide on penalties for breach of rule for it implies a breach of trust

Obviously McAfee want to sell more copies of their security software, however, if you have a child/young adult on G+, it’s worth checking out the whole article here.

20 things I learned about browsers and the web

During last Friday’s online learning session that was featured here, Victorian teacher Tony Richards discussed a book produced by Google entitled 20 things I learned about browsers and the web.

It has some useful information about cookies, malware, phishing, safe URLs and more. All sections are very brief, easy to understand and to the point.

How to delete your Google browsing history before new policy kicks in

As mentioned previously, Google are changing their privacy policy in 1 March. The Digital Journal explains how to easily delete your browsing history and how to keep any new browsing from being tracked by Google.

I was easily able to follow the steps they outlined to delete my history. Read the brief article here.