Google privacy: Spies in the back of my head

I’m feeling very Googled these days, and I don’t mean in a positive sense.  I don’t flatter myself by imagining millions of people out there are interested in my activities.  Heaven knows I’m not that important.  What I mean is that, like a character in an old Peter Lorre movie, I feel as if I am constantly being followed by spies in the shadows, tracking my thoughts and movements.  
 
Now, before you think I’m about to wrap my head in tinfoil and start living under a bridge, consider the headlines from this past week. Internet giant, Google, sent privacy advocates screaming into the streets by changing the way it combines and uses all that information one billion users give to the company; the people you know, the notes you write, the maps you request, the videos you watch, the TV you like, the food you crave, the music you dance to, the sites you surf.  Google calls it streamlining the online process.  European authorities call it a possible violation of their laws.
 
Apple apps made headlines too with new revelations about how readily they can snatch and use photos that you may think are safely tucked away on your phone or computer.  I’ve always been careful about my pics, but this should be a serious worry to some of the rest of you.  “Mr. Carlton, I’d love to give you the job, but first can you explain what you were doing in Zurich wearing a rubber suit in a room full of chimps?”
 
And on it goes: Facebook, Target, banks, mobile phone providers; more and more companies are coming under suspicion over the degree to which they are tracking every minute of our lives.  Almost all of them offer some version of the Google defense: “We’re doing it so you will have a better experience!”  Maybe that’s part of their plan, but plenty of new media analysts believe the core motive is to triangulate our wallets, and hot wire our spending to other big companies who’ll pay big for that connection.
 
To paraphrase tech and media commentator Douglas Rushkoff, “People who use Facebook think they are the customers. They’re not.  They’re the product.  The customers are the big companies buying all that information we’re giving away about ourselves.”
 
Now, quick, look behind your phone; didn’t you just see a shadow lurking there?

– CNN’s Tom Foreman is a regular on “AC360°”/www.ac360.com and “T



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Apple says its systems not to blame for…

By Edwin Chan and Christina FarrSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The week before a crucial launch of its new iPhone, Apple Inc said intimate photos of…

Local

Tallest residential building planned for lower Manhattan

A residential tower planned for lower Manhattan will soar 1,356 feet in the air -- just 12 feet shy of 1 World Trade Center. When…

Local

Bronx man commits suicide by decapitation

A Bronx man committed suicide Monday morning in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx by decapitating himself. According to the NYPD, the 51-year-old man…

Local

Top cops enroll in Twitter course at John…

NYPD officers are reportedly getting a lesson on the best way to use 140 characters or less. The New York Post reported Tuesday top officers…

Arts

Pop culture and prostitutes: New Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at…

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec documented the cult of celebrity and the rise of pop entertainment in his prints, posters and lithographs — now on display at MoMA.

Arts

PHOTO: Extreme artist Eskil Ronningsbakken balances unicycle on…

Extreme artist’ Eskil Ronningsbakken balances on the edge of a cliff face at 4,600 feet – on a unicycle. The Norwegian travels across the globe, balancing over vertiginous ravines, tall…

Music

Hear two previously unreleased Adele songs

Missing some Adele in your life? Two previously unreleased songs from the singer have appeared online.

Music

Lincoln Center just made 'Lord of the Rings'…

Middle Earth already has sweeping vistas, a hero's journey and technology-revolutionizing special effects. But next April, the Lincoln Center will add another dimension to Peter Jackson's…

NFL

Michael Vick set to be weekly guest with…

Mike Francesa may need to backtrack from his harsh commentary of Michael Vick now that the Jets backup quarterback will be a weekly guest on his show.

NFL

Jets expect to make playoffs after sitting on…

The same pundits who predicted the Jets would be woeful a season ago are now eying the playoffs for this revamped team.

NFL

Antonio Allen returns to practice after concussion

Antonio Allen was cleared to practice again following his concussion two weeks ago.

Sports

Belinda Bencic leads crop of young stars serving…

Belinda Bencic, a 17-year-old Swiss Miss, beat two Top-10 players before suffering a disappointing loss Tuesday in the quarterfinals.

Parenting

In defense of making a mess during playtime

"Recipes for Play" authors Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener think playtime should involve the five senses and making a mess is part of the fun.

Wellbeing

Jason Hope helps push anti-aging efforts forward

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article When it comes to age-related illness, the direction of modern medicine seems more reactive than proactive. In…

Wellbeing

Today's Doomsday preppers: a closer look at survivalist…

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. The term “Doomsday prepper” is often associated with the paranoid, anti-government stereotype of the 1990s. The truth…

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…