This summer he got a big surprise when he looked in Chrome’s “addresses” panel at chrome://settings/addresses It turns out Google has info connecting me to my grandma (on my dad’s side) who’s alive and well but has never had the internet, and my grandpa (on my mom’s side), who recently passed away in March 2019 and also never had the internet. This was disturbing for several reasons, the biggest of which being that neither of them had ever logged onto the internet in their lives. Neither even had the internet in their homes their entire lives! Beyond that, Google knew their exact addresses and their middle initials. I couldn’t even have told you those things about my grandparents…
[T]he data wasn’t manually entered by me or anyone using my account, but yet the data is associated with my account? How did that happen? The only thing I can think of is that at one point in history my grandpa gave his information to someone or some company in real life and his information was sold to Google at one point or another… But then that led me to another question: How did his data get associated with my Google account…?
Other questions I have: What other information does Google have about me/my family/others that I don’t know about…?
He’s now asking readers if they have any idea how Google connected him to his dead grandpa — and whether Google is somehow creating an ancestry database.
And in an update Toscano writes that he hopes the article will “provoke thought” about “why we willingly allow this to happen”:
Why is it okay that the internet is designed to be a surveillance machine? Why isn’t it designed to be private by design? Is this how we want to carry on? Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s right. What would you like to see done? How would you like to see things changed?