Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Google creates the mother of all privacy policies

Google announced in a blog post that for the sake of convenience, they are consolidating a lot of their privacy policies. They said that despite trimming down in 2010, they still had 70 different privacy policies ranging across all their products. Google is now consolidating at least 60 of these policies into one giant master privacy policy. The policy will cover the majority of Google's  products and will explain what information they collect, and how they use it. And of course, since privacy policies usually can be a little hard to read, they promise that this policy will be much more readable. They have also made a video (see below) in which they explain their privacy changes. They say that the changes that this policy will affect will take place beginning the 1st of March.


What does this mean for Google users? A lot actually. Just like Google released the Search Plus Your World feature through its social network, Google+, which brought Google+ posts to the forefront when you entered a query in Google. It was controversial because it showed Google's preference of supporting in house products and stifling competition. Now, with the new privacy policy, when a Google user is logged in to Google through any account, be it Gmail. YouTube or Google+, the new online Privacy Policy makes it clear that they may use information from any of your Google accounts in their other services. So for instance, Google can fuse your Gmail and YouTube account, so when you search for a particular video in Google, not only will it give you a link, it might even show you an e-mail someone sent you with the video.

Ads will also be affected. Google will read your e-mail and possibly even Google+ links to target very specific ads at you. They already do this in Gmail, based on the individual emails you open up, but now, Google will read your information and see if something like the gym is important to you. If it sees that fitness is not, they will not advertise gyms to you. Instead, they might look at your Calendar and your location and advertise a certain restaurant to you.

They did add a clause on the ways they haven't changed which affects how you can use their services and how transparent they will be. "We remain committed to data liberation, so if you want to take your information elsewhere you can. We don’t sell your personal information, nor do we share it externally without your permission except in very limited circumstances like a valid court order. We try hard to be transparent about the information we collect, and to give you meaningful choices about how it is used—for example our Ads Preferences Manager enables you to edit the interest categories we advertise against or turn off certain Google ads altogether. And we continue to design privacy controls, like Google+’s circles, into our products from the ground up."

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