Giving up Google for a day

Jennifer Collins Mar 2, 2012

Kai Ryssdal: Unless you’ve been completely off-line for some reason this week, you might have heard that Google turned on  its new privacy settings yesterday. The changes let the company combine the information it gathers on users across all of its services — Gmail, YouTube, search, the whole smash. We’ll spare you the details, other than to say it looks to be a simpler privacy policy with perhaps less privacy. Unless, you go completely Google free.

Marketplace’s Jennifer Collins logged off and lived to tell about it.

Jennifer Collins: It is March 1st. Google D-Day.

I’m in a no-Google zone for 24 hours. Today my privacy is mine. This is gonna hurt.

Collins: OK, all right. I am getting rid of my Gmail app. Google maps, right now. The Talk app because that uses Gchat. Gosh, no YouTube!

Goodbye phone.

Collins: Just arriving at work now.

I’m supposed to be caught up on everything that’s happened in the last 24 hours and be smart about what’ll happen in the next 24. My morning prep is a Google minefield. I get no mercy from my editor.

Betsy Streisand: When I started as a journalist, the Internet barely existed.

How’d that work? I headed for a search engine called DuckDuckGo.

Gabriel Weinberg: We actually currently don’t track our users.

Gabriel Weinberg is the founder. He says, since Google announced its privacy policy his traffic has more than doubled to a million searches a day. Google gets a billion. And Weinberg says lots of websites use Google’s tools to track users — many people don’t know about it.

Weinberg: I would imagine anyone using the Internet today, even if they don’t go to any Google sites, still interact with Google.

There are, of course, do-not-track services — many of which Google has found ways around. I check out one of these sites.

Collins: And what do you know, a video from YouTube pops up.

Video: Welcome to the guided tour for Do Not Track Plus.

YouTube, I can’t go there. It’s owned by Google. You know what, I’ve gotta get away from my computer.

Collins: I’m just going to sign out.

At home, it’s the first of the month and my bills are due. My roommates and I keep track of everything on a Google spreadsheet.

Collins: So since I can’t use Google, do you think you guys can wait a day on the rent?

Roommate: Absolutely not. You have to use Google.

That’s not happening. I need to get my mind off search. Oh yeah, I’ve been wanting to watch this movie about an evil bank.

“The International” movie clip: They control everything.

Collins: OK. It’s no Google. Day 2. March 2, I’m driving to work again.

But it’s also Friday. And that means movies and parties and dancing. But I can’t get into my Gmail to figure out what’s happening! OK Google, you win! Just track me! OK, moment of weakness. I sought guidance from Marc Rotenberg. He’s head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Collins: Is there a way to escape Google then?

Marc Rotenberg: Well, you could unplug your computer and open up a book.

And a map, and a Zagat’s — oh no, that’s owned by Google — and a dictionary. Yeah, nevermind.

I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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