Book Chapters  

How to Plan our Google Account?
 

  • Tap on the right facing arrow of “Make a plan for your account”

Inactive Account Manager:
This allows a user to trigger a plan, when the user has been inactive on Google for a pre-defined period of time, for example, in the event of an accident or death. However, before activating the plan, Google contacts the owner multiple times by SMS on the linked phone number and by email address. 

Plan: When the account becomes inactive, Google can:

  • Notify upto 10 people chosen by the user
  • Delete the account  
  • Setup a customised “AutoReply” or
  • Share the data with chosen people 

However, the shared data must be downloaded within a period of 3 months, otherwise the account gets deleted automatically.  
 

How to Track Email Messages?
 

Get Notify: 
When we send an email, at times we want to know whether the message has been read by the intended recipient. This is particularly needed when the law enforcement authorities need to prove in the Court of law that a particular email was read by the intended user. Google mail i.e, Google allows such a feature through services like “getnotify”.

The tracking of email messages is done with the help of web beacon. A Web beacon is an often-transparent graphic image, usually no larger than 1 pixel x 1 pixel. It is placed in the sent email and often used in combination with cookies.

The web beacons besides tracking the opening of email messages, can also track other relevant information of the user including:

  • User’s IP address
  • User's geographical location
  • Whether message was viewed for a length of time or
  • Whether the message was deleted right away

This service is completely free and does not necessarily require Gmail as the email provider. However, free account is limited to only five email messages per day. 

What Is The Procedure For Tracking?

The process requires the following details:

  1. Email address
  2. First Name
  3. Last Name
  4. Password
  5. Country
  6. Time Zone
  • Send email as usual, but add “getnotify.com” after each email recipient. E.g, instead of sending mail to a valid account like example@gmail.com, send email to example@gmail.com.getnotify.com. This forces the email messages to go through the Get Notify’s servers which then routes the messages to the intended addresses.  
  • Get Notify server adds a web beacon to the mail intended for the target. When the email recipient opens the message, this beacon gets downloaded. Thus, it enables Get Notify find the aforesaid mentioned information. 
  • Get Notify notifies the user about the “information gathered” through an email. Alternatively, the user can view the log files from the online account created at “getnotify.com”. 
  • The web beacon inserted by the Get Notify servers and the term “getnotify.com” at the end of the email addresses, are both invisible to the target.   
  • Optionally, the users after signing in to the website, can specify their own images to be used as tracking images by going to the preference section.
  • If the user wants to send a single email to multiple targets, he/ she should add “getnotify.com” at the end of every email-address. 

Real Life Application:

  • By private investigators, to know the true location of a suspect. 
  • To know the emotional state of a subject, based on how the email message was treated – read again and again or deleted right away. 

YouTube:
 

While logged to any of the Google services like Gmail, tap on the Google apps icon i.e, 9 dots icon in the upper right corner. Then, from the pop-up window, select the YouTube app. Alternatively, if you are signed-in to any of the Google service like Gmail you can directly open the YouTube app at https://www.youtube.com 

Videos occupy two of our five senses, thus need lesser time to explain a point. Thus, a useful, but a lesser used feature is “YouTube channel”. It can be used for variety of purposes like showcasing skills, earning money or fame etc. 

Steps to Create a YouTube Channel:

  • Log into your YouTube account. 
  • Now scroll down the page, to find the “Settings” option in the left panel of the page (as shown in the figure below).
  • Tap on the “Settings” option.
  • In the next page, under the “Your Account” section, you will find an option “Create a new channel”.
  • Tap on “Create a new channel” and in the next page that follows, enter the “Brand Account Name” and then tap on “Create” to complete the process.  

Why Should you Create a YouTube Channel?

  • Creative outlet:As mentioned above, it can be used to promote different forms of creative thinking and ideas. Many users have gathered millions of subscribers by showcasing their hidden talents.  
  • Direct revenue:If the channel becomes popular enough, it can become a great source of revenue. If you enable ads on your videos, you can make a few dollars for every thousand views of the video. 
  • New content formats:By 2021 about 82 % of all the internet traffic will be for video, currently 73 % in 2016. Thus, YouTube channel is a very powerful medium to produce and distribute the video content.
  • Audience size:One can engage with a massive audience. There are more than 1.57 billion monthly active YouTube users around the world, with 30 million daily active users. Even a fraction of the YouTube’s user base gives an enormous amount of visibility.
  • Ease of production:Basic forms of videos like interviews or monologues can be produced for free using a smart phone. 

Google Drive:
 

You may log into Google Drive using the method discussed earlier or by using the link https://drive.google.com 

Google Drive is a free data storage service by Google. It offers 15 Gigabytes of free storage space to store files, documents, pictures and so on. It uses cloud computing technology, which means the data is stored on one of the Google’s servers, so that a user can access the data from anywhere and anytime. 

Benefits of Using Google Drive: 

  • Backup your precious files:Google Drive is a better storage alternative to an external hard drive or USB stick because they can both malfunction or become corrupt, thus you may lose your precious file/ data forever which is near impossible with Google Drive. Also, storing of data with Google Drive is far cheaper than using external hard drive or USB. 
  • Send large files to family, friends or co-workers:If you use Gmail, then Google Drive allows sending large files to the contacts directly from the e-mail account. 
  • Use Google drive app to access documents:Google stores the files on its server, thus users can access them from anywhere, as long as they are able to access the internet.
  • Efficient built-in search engine:Google Drive has its own built-in search engine. The search bar at the top of “My Drive” page allows to search by file type - image, word document, videos as well as by keyword. The “More Search Tools” additionally allows search by ownership and date modified. 
  • Optical Character Recognition feature:Google drive’s Optical Character Recognition technology can scan through documents saved by other users and find the word (or name) you are searching. 
  • 15 GB free space:A user gets 15GB of free disk space! You can also upgrade on payment basis. When you upgrade to a paid account, your Gmail account storage also expands automatically to 25GB.
  • Share files with family, friends and colleagues:If family members, friends or colleagues also use Google drive, you can share files with them. This sharing is especially handy if you have to travel and need to work on a project simultaneously with group members in different locations. This provides the following benefits:
  1. Sharing extent:You can share with specific individuals or share with a group or public via a link.
  2. Set sharing permission:You can set the permission - whether your friend, family or colleague can view, edit, comment or do all of them.
  3. Allows edit files:Google drive gives you instant access to Google Docs, and editing tools allow you to edit and make changes to the files.
  4. Open discussion:You can create and reply to the comments and make files more collaborative by commenting directly on the files.

How To Share Files/ Data?

  • Navigate to the Google Drive home page i.e, “My Drive”. This page shows various documents in the “My Google Drive” accounts.
  • Right click on the document you want to share. 
  • Tap on the link “Share”. This opens a pop-up as shown below.
  • Tapping on the drop down menu enables you to choose the sharing properties – edit, comment and view.
  • Enter names or email addresses and select the sharing properties, and tap on “Done” to finish sharing the document. 
  • However, if you want to share the document with a larger audience, then tap on the option “Get sharable link”.
  • A link then allows decide the sharing properties – Anyone with the link can: edit, comment or view. You can then share the link with different groups and even on platforms like Facebook, Quora etc.  
  • Clicking on “Advanced” option enables a user to share the link via Gmail, Google +, Facebook and Twitter. It also enables changing the sharing properties of any document from private to public to anyone with the link.  

Google Photos:
 

To open the Google Photos directly, navigate to https://photos.google.com and start using Google Photos!

Google Photos gives users free, unlimited storage for photos up to 16 Megapixels and videos up to 1080p resolution. It bridges the gap between cloud storage, image hosting and image sharing services, giving stiff competition to Flickr, iCloud, Dropbox and OneDrive.

Salient Features of Google Photos App:

  • Enable the "Back up & Sync" menu in the Settings:Google Photo then uploads the entire photo gallery online, accessible from anywhere. Now, you may delete the phone gallery, freeing up the phone’s free space. 
  • Categorization:As Google Photo uses geo-location and face recognition, it can search by face, date, location and type. Face recognition is not common for a photo app. For example, Flickr only has image recognition capabilities but not face.
  • Search for People, places and objects:Type the search term in the search bar at the top of the page and then tap “Enter” to search the above parameters. 
  • Undelete photos:You may accidently delete the wrong photos or change mind after deleting a photo. Then, navigate to the “Bin” folder of phone (within 60 days), touch and hold the photo you want to undelete and tap on “Restore” in the lower right corner. 
  • Make album, movie, animations and beautiful collages from the photos:Open the Google Photo mobile app and tap the three vertical dots in the upper right corner. Select “Album”,  “Add a title”, tap on the desired photos and then click on “Enter”. Similarly, you can create movie, collages and animations with the photos. 

How To Share Photos And Videos With Anyone?
With Google Photos, you can easily share an image, album and movie with anyone. Open the app and select the photos you want to share. Then tap on the “Share” icon in the upper right corner. Now, you can share: 

  • Through a link:Tap on “Create link” option and share it with apps like What’s App, Hangout, Gmail, Telegram etc. Anyone with the link can see the selected photos, so you should also review them periodically and delete the ones no longer required. However, if the person with whom you had shared the link has already downloaded or copied the same, deleting the shared link will not delete any copies made.
  • Specific sharing:Search by name, phone number or email address in the “To” search bar at the top of the page. Add a message, tap on the “lock” icon to decide if “Let others add photos” or “Only you can add photos” and then tap on “Send” to complete the process.

How To Collaborate?
Like other Google apps, Google Photos also allows collaboration.

  • Tap on “Add partner account” and select “Get started”. Search for the partner in the “To” field at the top of the page, either with a name or an email address. 
  • Decide the level of access: “All photos”, “photos of specific faces” or only “photos since a specific date”. Tap on “Next” button in the upper right corner and “Send invitation” by tapping at the bottom of the page. 

Chapter 6: What Google Knows about Us:
 

"It's like the Wild West, the Internet. There are no rules".
-    Steven Wright, American thinker

In the previous chapter, we read about some of the most amazing features of the Google products. But have you ever wondered, how Google provides all these amazing services and features for free? How Google is one of the largest companies in the world, without charging its users? Here comes the other side of Google, the creepy side. For Google, we are not a customer, rather we are the products!

In this chapter, we shall understand how Google intrudes our privacy and to what extent. 

Why Google Tracks Us?
Google’s business model is an advertisement based business model. Therefore, Google tracks its users to know their likes, dislikes and preferences. Google also tracks its users because:

  • Data about human behaviour is valuable and they "sell it" to third parties like advertisers, data brokers, financial firms etc. 
  • Data enables Google understand the user's needs and incorporate the same in its products, to remain "ahead of the curve".
  • Better services: Google customises the search engine results based on the past preferences, location and other user details. 

In fact, during the Google account creation we consent to its “Terms and Conditions”, which legally allows tracking.

The Myth of “Nothing To Hide”:
Some people argue that they have “nothing to hide,” and hence they are not concerned with Google tracking. We feel the argument is flawed because:

Firstly, everyone has some information they want to keep private, e,g, sexual orientation. Secondly, very few of us would actually consent to secret profiling. Thirdly, privacy is essential for everyday situations like medical care, financial transactions etc.

What is the Intensity of Google Tracking?
Google is like our relatives i.e., “it knows more about us, than we know about ourselves”. The only difference between Google and relatives is that we gladly give our most private information to Google unlike relatives.

Google tracks us as much as possible – it records whether we saw its ads, if yes then from where, whether we clicked on them etc. Even when not signed in, 75% of the top million websites have Google trackers – “They have become a tracking company!” 

What are the Tracking Sources?
 

The most common Google products and services that track us are: 

  • Google Search
  • Google Chrome
  • Google Play
  • Gmail
  • Contacts
  • Google Maps
  • Google Drive
  • YouTube
  • Google Photos
  • Google Hangouts
  • Ads
  • Google Fit
  • Google News
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Books
  • Google Shopping

Before moving on to show some real life examples of tracking, consider the following hypothetical chat with Google which sums up the present situation very well: 

Era of Big Data:

Customer:“Hello! Is this Gordon's Pizza?
Google:No sir, it's Google's Pizza.
Customer:Did I dial the wrong number?
Google:No sir, Google bought the pizza store.
Customer:Oh, alright - then I’d like to place an order please.
Google:Okay sir, do you want the usual?
Customer:The usual? You know what my usual is?
Google:According to the caller ID, the last 15 times you’ve ordered a 12-slice with double-cheese, sausage and thick crust.
Customer:Okay - that’s what I want this time too.
Google:May I suggest that this time you order an 8-slice with ricotta, arugula and tomato instead?
Customer:No, I hate vegetables.
Google:But your cholesterol is not good.
Customer:How do you know?
Google:Through the subscribers guide. We have the results of your blood tests for the last 7 years.
Customer:Maybe so, but I don’t want the pizza you suggest – I already take medicine for high cholesterol.
Google:But you haven’t taken the medicine regularly. 4 months ago you purchased from Drugsale Network a box of only 30 tablets.
Customer:I bought more from another drugstore.
Google:It's not showing on your credit card sir.
Customer:I paid in cash.
Google:But according to your bank statement you did not withdraw that much cash.
Customer:I have another source of cash.
Google:This is not showing on your last tax form, unless you got it from an undeclared income source.
Customer:To HELL With Ur Pizza..!! ENOUGH!!
I'm sick of Google, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. I'm going to an island without internet, where there’s no cell-phone line and no one to spy on me ...
Google:I understand sir, but you’ll need to renew your PASSPORT ... it expired 5 weeks ago”.

Does Google Track our Web and App Activity?
 

Web and app activity, includes the search history and the app activity. They are turned on by default on iPhone and Android devices. One can view this information by using the "My Activity" tool. 

Gmail Account
Thus, Google knows our past searches and apps used. Even with the Chrome incognito mode, these searches are stored in our Google account. 

Does Google Track our Location?

Sign-in to any of the Google product like Gmail. Then, tap on the “Google app” icon (9 dots icon) and then click on the “Google Maps”. Tap on the three horizontal lines in the upper left-corner, and then click on “Your Timeline”. It opens a page as shown below:

Enter the values of “Year”, “Month” and “Day”. 

This shows our location for that particular day! 
Thus, anyone with our login credentials can access a precise record of our movements. For example, a user data at 3:04 p.m, on June 14 of last year, showed this record:

Here:

  • “1497467060467” is an encoded timestamp.  
  • The location is: 

1.    Latitude 43.7286879, 
2.    Longitude -793484368 and 
3.    Altitude 106 m (above sea level). 
Google CEO Sundar Pichai admitted that Chrome sends the location data to its servers about 340 times an hour. 

Does Google Listen Us Too?
 

Courtesy:Quora

  • I saw a video on YouTube about how Google listens you to show relevant ads. I thought why not just try it. So, I plugged in my earphones with built-in microphone on my laptop and went to a random website. It was showing no ads at the moment, then closed the website and called my sister and start talking to her about the wallpaper that she wanted for her room.
  • I was using the word “wallpaper” deliberately a few times during our conversation and after 3 minutes or so the discussion was over. My sister went off and I thought why not just check the same website once again. And guess what, this time there were ads on that website and that too of “Wallpapers”. So, yes Google is listening us. You can try this on your own to believe it!

 When you tap on the microphone icon in the search bar or hold the “Home button” to open the Google Assistant, it prompts for a voice command. Google subsequently records all the voice commands. If you use Google Home, then Google stores a live recording of every command ever said to the device!