Like many others I use a ‘gmail’ account for some private email.  When I first opened my first gmail email account, nearly ten years ago I’m sure I thought: “what the heck, decent search engine (I’d often used one called ‘dogpile’) and now a free email account, can’t beat that”

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It was about three weeks ago while bored I was tooling around in the ‘my account’ section of gmail on my desktop… and while digging I discovered something that I’m still deciding whether it horrified me or is a comfort…

If you’re using an android type phone like I do, Google is tracking every place you go and you can look it up in your own google account under the ‘activities’ section.  I was amazed to see a nice little track of my daily movements to the day to the hour displayed on a map! I could pick any date, as far back as when I first got my present phone almost two years ago. I keep a phone until it stops working by the way, which means I get a new phone every 3-4 years and I know some folks run down and get a new phone every time they change models.

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Google, if you have your email on your phone (who doesn’t?) is using your phones geographical locator to keep track of everywhere you go.  The locators in the phone aren’t an awful idea, if you needed help in an emergency, and passed out before you could tell the 911 operator where you were, they could send help based on where your phone is. And that could be convenient in a severe emergency.

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So far so good… the android operating system and ol’ google are being helpful and may even save my life.

On another note, if you were accused of serious wrongdoing – your phone and google could possibly exonerate you by showing you were nowhere near the bank during the robbery… (why do I even think of things like that?)

But now comes word that Google may be LISTENING to you when you don’t know it… when you’re planning that bank robbery for instance… or telling your psychiatrist your innermost secrets and fears.

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One factor that can open this Pandora’s Box for you is if you’ve ever used Google’s Assistant, which is similar to Apples Siri.  If you’ve ever ‘asked’ outloud for Google help, there’s a decent chance some of your most private conversations, moods and moans are now recorded and will forever exist in some google server farm on a cloud far far away.

What most often triggers google turning on your microphone and its tape recorders is you simply saying “OK” or “OK Google” as when asking for directions, searching for recipes and/or the nearest bank that’s just received the refinery payroll.

In the recent past I have chastised my friends for getting the in-home or office little devices you can simple tell to play a song, turn on the lights, etc., the digital world we live in is very convenient, but you never know who’s listening. We could all be virtually ‘wiretapped’.

And please, I’m not planning any bank robberies, or other scurrilous projects… and the things said in my home would rate ‘double boring’ someplace below a Mr. Rogers telecast.

It’s just being an American and growing up with a certain amount of liberty, freedom and privacy – I don’t like the idea of my every word possibly being recorded and my every movement known.  But I do like the convenience as described earlier of being able to call for emergency help and having a little digital assistance.

The real problem for me boils down to: google knows I’m cheating on my bread-free sugar-free diet as it tracks me through the fast-food drive-through windows ordering double cheeseburgers and malts around 11 pm like clockwork.  After all it’s all there in the cloud if you don’t believe me, you can look it up.