There’s a fascinating article by Yasha Levine that illuminates a point we’ve been mulling over for some time: what data Google holds on us and what it’s aiming to achieve with all of this.  The full article, available here’s-profit-surveillance-problem reveals the following:

Here’s are some of the things that Google would use to construct its profiles, gleaned from two patents company filed prior to launching its Gmail service:

  • Concepts and topics discussed in email, as well as email attachments
  • The content of websites that users have visited
  • Demographic information — including income, sex, race, marital status
  • Geographic information
  • Psychographic information — personality type, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyle interests
  • Previous searches users have made
  • Information about documents a user viewed and or edited by the users
  • Browsing activity
  • Previous purchases

To EPIC, Google’s interception and use of such detailed personal information was clearly a violation of California law, and the organization called on California’s Attorney General who promised to investigate Google’s Gmail service. The Attorney General promised to look into the matter, but nothing much happened.

Good work by Yasha.  So here we have a shopping list of the information they want to hold, and probably already do.  It is, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a violation of the law and it is clear from the above that nothing has happened despite the authorities looking at it.  Sounds familiar.  Given the fact that other nations are taking concrete action to address Google’s privacy policy and practices, it is time for the Information Commissioner’s Office to act.  Why is it doing nothing?