• In 2004, thirty-one privacy and civil liberties organizations wrote a letter calling upon Google to suspend its Gmail service until the privacy issues were adequately addressed. (source: Privacy Rights Clearinghouse)
  • In October 2004, Google acquired Keyhole, a 3D mapping company. In February 2004, before its acquisition by Google, Keyhole received an investment from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s investment arm. And in July 2010 it was reported that the investment arms of both the CIA (In-Q-Tel) and Google (Google Ventures) were investing in Recorded Future, a company specializing in predictive analytics—monitoring the web in real time and using that information to predict the future. And, while private corporations have been using similar systems since the 1990s, the involvement of Google and the CIA with their large data stores raised privacy concerns. (sources: The Register, Wired, and Huffington Post)
  • In its 2007 Consultation Report, Privacy International ranked Google as “Hostile to Privacy”, its lowest rating on their report, making Google the only company in the list to receive that ranking. (source: BBC News)
  • In 2008, Consumer Watchdog produced a video showing how Google Chrome records what a user types into the web address field and sends that information to Google servers to populate search suggestions. The video includes discussion regarding the potential privacy implications of this feature. (source: Consumer Watchdog)
  • On March 10, 2009, Google reported that a bug in Google Docs had allowed unintended access to some private documents. (source: The Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Around December 2009, after privacy concerns were raised, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt declared: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. (source: The Register)
  • In 2010 at a technology conference, Google’s CEO Eric Shmidt also said If I look at enough of your messaging and your location, and use artificial intelligence, we can predict where you are going to go. Show us 14 photos of yourself and we can identify who you are. You think you don’t have 14 photos of yourself on the internet? You’ve got Facebook photos!” (source: THINQ)
  • In 2011, a federal district court judge in the United States turned down a Freedom of Information Act request, submitted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. In May 2012, a Court of Appeals upheld the ruling. The request attempted to disclose NSA records regarding the 2010 cyber-attack on Google users in China. The NSA stated that revealing such information would make the US Government information systems vulnerable to attack. The NSA refused to confirm or deny the existence of the records, or the existence of any relationship between the NSA and Google. (source: USA Today)
  • Leaked NSA documents obtained by The Guardian and The Washington Post in June 2013 included Google on the list of companies that cooperate with the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program, which authorizes the government to secretly access data of non-US citizens hosted by American companies without a warrant. Following the leak, government officials acknowledged the existence of the program. According to the leaked documents, the NSA has direct access to servers of those companies, and the amount of data collected through the program had been growing fast in years prior to the leak. Google has denied the existence of any “government backdoor”. (sources: The Guardian, The Washington Post, Tech Cruch, The New York Times)
  • A court filing uncovered by advocacy group Consumer Watchdog in August 2013 revealed that Google stated in a court filing that no “reasonable expectation” exists among Gmail users in regard to the assured confidentiality of their emails. (source: The Guardian)
  • In the summer of 2016, Google quietly dropped its ban on personally-identifiable info in its DoubleClick ad service. (source: ProPublica)
  • Google places one or more cookies on each user’s computer, which is used to track a person’s web browsing on a large number of unrelated websites, and track their search history. If you are logged into a Google service, Google also uses the cookies to record which Google Account is accessing each website and doing each search.
  • A Federal Judge declined to dissolve a lawsuit made by Gmail users who opposed to the use of analyzing the content of the messenger by selling byproducts.