Is Google spying?


I have HBO with my cable, so I wanted to watch something on it(because FIOS on demand sucks). So a couple months ago I went HBO, without signing in. Because they don’t have that automatic thing that check in to see who my service provider is without having to create an account. They let me pick my provider, but it won’t automatically sign in, like some other sites will.

Now once a week I’m getting emails from HBO in my Gmail, to signup for HBO. The was before the new Edge, so I was still using chrome.

Comments (26)

26 responses to “Is Google spying?”

  1. wright_is

    Very probably. They have their trackers embedded on most sites, so if you are logged into Google on your browser, they know it is you when you visit a third party site with one of their trackers.

    The question is how HBO got your mail address from Google... In Europe that would be illegal, but I guess they can sell that information in the USA.

  2. Chris_Kez

    Here's my own anecdote: since we moved from Office 365 to G Suite I have started regularly getting cold-call emails for all kinds of B2B solutions and services.

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      You left Office 365 for G Suite? - you are getting what you deserve. ?

    • AnOldAmigaUser

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      And you are paying for G-Suite?

      My anecdote: I worked for a research university, and at the interdepartmental IT meeting, we were told that they had added a G-Suite subscription in addition to the Office 365 subscription they already had, and that the professors and researchers were going to be encouraged to share project data with colleagues and collaborators via Google Drive, as opposed to the various ways they were currently using. I asked if they had actually read the TOS and EULA for the products, and if they still thought that was a good idea; of course, they had and it was, I was assured. Two months later, at the same meeting, the word was that Google Drive was not to be used for sharing data, and that we were to make sure that what was there was pulled, though that was akin to closing the barn door after the horse was out. There was never an explanation for the change of heart, but rumor had it that some very sensitive research data got out and was found available via a Google search. I cannot verify the rumor, but that was the fastest action I ever saw in academia.

  3. jrswarr

    When aren't they spying? It is after all hard coded into their business model.

  4. Daishi

    Unfortunately I’m geoblocked from being able to confirm it, but I would be very surprised if you could complete the process you described without giving your email address to HBO. I certainly can’t think of any remotely similar online services that I use where you could. Even assuming that you can it’s probably part of the deal with your cable company that HBO get user information, like your email address, from them to use for purposes like this.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, Google are 100% spying on you and I completely agree that their motives and actions deserve to be questioned at almost all times, but on this occasion I don’t see how their involvement extends beyond providing you with a browser and an email service.

    • Lordbaal

      In reply to Daishi:

      I never signed in. So they don't have my email address.

      • PeterC

        In reply to Lordbaal:

        But they have your IP address. Google log you by your ip as well as email, mobile number etc etc as do others like your cable provider etc etc

        All one big jolly cauldron of data with multiple identifiers in play at the same time, to sort by depending on the situation or advertiser attempting to market to you etc. They hoover up data from their systems, and buy in other “offline data” to cross reference you by, eg master card data etc, isp data, loyalty card points data etc etc, and then present your so called, “anomalysed” user profile to all the companies who pay google to access their marketing database. They have you fixed at home and on the move etc if you use android or any google app on iOS, as do Facebook, amazon etc etc

        its a nightmare mate. People are only just waking up to the scale of data held and how it’s collected and the inter sharing relationships these companies operate. It’s totally scary nd it won’t end well.....

      • Daishi

        In reply to Lordbaal:

        Ok, so what did you do? Your post doesn’t make that clear. I’m guessing that you didn’t just go to the HBO homepage and then leave, so you must have done something there.

  5. waethorn

    Yes. And complacency only makes it worse.

    When someone says "I've got nothing to hide", tell them to drop their pants.

  6. Lordbaal

    I have on do not track.

    And how would HBO who what my email address is?

  7. StevenLayton

    Does the Pope pray on Sundays?

  8. minke

    The answer is everyone is "spying" on everyone else, not just Google. Could be your cable company spying on you that then sells that information to someone who sells it to Google, etc. I have had the eerie experience of talking to my son on a cell phone about an upcoming trip to Japan and then suddenly starting to see ads on cable TV for traveling to Japan that I had never seen before. Probably just a coincidence, but I wonder if somehow my son't searching for info about Japan travel and his connection to me became information that could then be sold to advertisers? In any case, this is the world we live in and there is no escaping it unless you throw your phone and computer away, stop watching television, stop using credit cards, and move to some place with no Internet connectivity.

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to Minke:

      Sorry but Google is never to be trusted. You are the product they sell and until people wake up and understand that their privacy is no less important in 2019 than it was in 1989 they will expose themselves to this type of unacceptable invasion of privacy. Google offers nothing that is so amazing it is worth giving up our privacy.

    • Greg Green

      In reply to Minke:

      Don’t ignore your phone, it listens for all sorts of key words and sends them to the advertisers’ bin. Even when you’re not talking on the phone. It could be in your pocket, purse, or countertop and it’s still listening.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to Minke:

      Exactly. Every single company you deal with, subscribe to or even contact use your data. Phone conversations are recorded, data is copied and kept then often mined, data you enter into forms is then used to target you with spam. It's happening all the time, and it's almost impossible to stay away from. ALL tech companies do it do - Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google - it's just the way it is.

  9. locust infested orchard inc

    If by "spying" one widens the definition to include incessant monitoring of one's browsing activity, physical location, etc., then the answer is, yes indeed.

    Google "spies" because it can, and for the vast majority, we merely dismiss the security and privacy implications as "I've got nothing to hide, so what".

    Google needs to brought to task on its business model of making its users the product and making sheds loads of wonga, without us really being aware of the shenanigans Google et al. partake.

    • garumphul

      In reply to locust infested orchard inc:

      That business model - selling advertising space on web sites and giving that web site a cut of the profit - is what makes browsing free. If you had to pay even a fraction of a cent for every page impression, the average person's browsing bill would be huge. It's either advertising or you pay for access. Authoring decent content is expensive.

      • AnOldAmigaUser

        In reply to garumphul:

        If 95% of the web content currently available was no longer available, would the world be worse off? The dross to information ratio is definitely some large number to one. Does advertising provide enough revenue for decent content?

  10. garumphul

    I depends what you mean by "spying".

    You (in the general sense, not you specifically) agree to their EULA or T&Cs when you sign up for your Google account, install Chrome or use Android. Those terms allow them to mine certain data about the sites you visit, the apps you install, the people you email. When you visit a web site, most of them will have trackers (cookies + javascript) from Amazon or Google or Facebook that let those companies know you visited that site, which articles you read, which products you looked at. For the vast majority of sites trackers are part of the terms of using that site for free, and it's how the web continues to exist without requiring payment every time you visit a site.

    So when you say "spying" what you really mean is "good grief, I authorized them to collect a lot of data because I want to use some services for free, and it turns out they're really really good at mining that data".

  11. AnOldAmigaUser

    Technically, it is not agreed to the TOS and EULA. Of course, they are following your every action when you use any of their products.

    I've said it before, but "We know where you live, and the route you take home from work." used to be a threat. Now it is Google and the internet ad complex.

  12. PeterC

    >> Is google spying?


  13. davidpark123

    I think when we are keeping on GPS in our phone google have a slight chance to spy on us. I dont think they are currently doing that.