Google Voice - No Privacy Remains?

Google is announcing a new service - Google Voice. Apart from the automatic transcripts of voicemail, call filtering and other user benefits, the service will give Google access to enormous amounts of information about your life - including recordings of your voice mail.

Of course, the Google creed is - Do no evil! But let's dig deeper into what Google will get their hands on:

  • Records of voice mail calls, with automatic transcription - Google will have the voice AND a searchable text of your messages, possibly even your calls at some point
  • Voice imprints of all the people who called you - and they can match those imprints to a source phone number.
  • FULL listing of your incoming call list - since Google Voice is a service integrated with Grand Central (Google Number) which creates one single number and when the caller rings that number, you can select up to 6 phones to ring simultaneously.
The reason for all this is simple - profit. The Google Voice service will be free and Google will try to insert ads - first in the transcripts and then possibly even in the audio segments of the conversation.

I have no objection to the efforts of Google to make a profit - especially since they offer a free service for this.
But the amount of information that is going to be collected in this way will soon rival a system popularly known as ECHELON - a highly secretive grid of US and UK government datacenters and communication hubs used to intercept, process and analyze electronic communications.

So instead of having to spend billions of dollars to set-up and operate huge datacenters and hundreds of employees, the NSA, FBI, CIA and all other 3-4 letter agencies will just use USA PATRIOT Act or something similar to 'ask' Google for access to all recorded.
And it's not only the government that will try to get their hands on such info. I suspect that Google Voice will become a target of all kinds of hacker groups, intelligence agencies and generally anyone trying to extract possibly useful info from the archived data.

So next time you are phoning someone, first thing you do is ask the person on the other side - are you on Google?

Talkback and comments are most welcome

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Hunting for hackers - Google fraud style
Nobody's safe - Google's personal data stolen


Jan said...

The implication to an individual's privacy is staggering. I took note of this development with benign interest. These are valid concerns you have raised. Makes one think really hard about the increasing encroachment one's privacy. This is insightful and valuable post. Thanks.

Bulldog said...

Wow, its scary what all Google knows about us already and what they will know in the future. There really is no such thing as privacy anymore. If you really don't want anyone to know something, you better not be using technology to transmit the information.

Bozidar Spirovski said...

Well, Google will have information only on the people who opt in to use the service. But those will be counted in hundreds of thousands in a year, if not millions

oner said...

Nice share... and dropping EC
Here.. Daily tips on my blog

Armand said...

It's wicked. Take care your privacy guys :)

troubleshooting computer said...

technology is liked a two sided blade.
it can attack us, or it can help us.

Shu Fen said...

gahh that's freakishly creepy =S nice blog you have here ^^

TJ Taylor said...

Information for sale = GOOG ($378.81)

...seriously, the reality is that a majority of this information has been collected for many years. The main focus here as the rate at which the information can be indexed, compiled and disseminated at the request of "interested" parties.

Anonymous said...

The cost of setting up data centers to spy on americans hasn't proven a very effective deterrent. I doubt google voice will change much.

It's funny, when gmail launched everyone was hesitant about the idea that google would analyze the text of your email to provide contextual ads, now it's the same thing with your voicemail.

I am inclined to worry about these things, but the records at gmail already houses some pretty intimate secrets--I just don't think Im losing much more with this. After all, my phone number (and everyone else's I know) are all stored in my google contacts already.

Rusli Zainal Sang Visioner said...

Fantastic post there, very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Google Voice Service Takes Aim At Telephone Companies: It converts voicemails to text, and even better…nice article

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