MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Earlier this year, Google quietly introduced a new feature that may raise some eyebrows.

The mega search engine announced that you can now download your entire search history.

As long as you’ve been logged in, Google has saved each and every search.

And keep in mind, the search engine gets 3.5 billion searches a day.

So can they go ahead and just read our Gmail?

“They have algorithms doing that,” University of Minnesota computer science professor Arindam Banerjee said.

He says Google has computer algorithms that look at your Google Docs, Google Maps and Gmail; really, anything that shows up in “text.” And he says there’s a reason why the algorithms keep an eye on you.

“In a search engine or in Gmail, they in principle can look at that and look at other things, and then come up with what ads to serve,” Banerjee said.

The algorithms use your Google searches to build a customer profile in order to figure out what advertisements and services might appeal to you.

Each time you search, they learn a little more.

So how much does Google know about you? It just depends on what personal information you’ve disclosed through Google.

But Banerjee says while algorithms read messages, Google employees can’t. They aren’t allowed access.

“You really have to go very high up and there will be a few people who, if needed, will be able to access this,” he said.

Banerjee says that storage nowadays is cheap. That allows a company like Google to save pretty much everything that makes its way through their search engines.

If you do plan on downloading your search history, it’s on your Google Account History page.

But keep in mind — you shouldn’t download it on a public computer if the information is sensitive.

John Lauritsen

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