Google’s New Privacy Policy

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Attention Google users: if you haven’t check out Google’s new privacy policy you may want to give it a read to see how your information will soon be shared across a number of the search giant’s services. Google has announced that beginning March 1, everyone who uses its search, calendar, YouTube and Gmail services may have his or her data shared across each and every one of those accounts. So when you’re signed in, Google may combine the information that you’ve already provided in each one of those services with information from the other services. Each account holder will be treated as a single user across all of those products, “which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”

Google is consolidating some 60 separate privacy policies that the company says will result in a more consistent, easier to read and understandable one-policy document. There are fewer words, simpler explanations and less legal gobbledygook. The change does not affect Google Books, Chrome and Google Wallet, each of which will retain its own separate privacy policy.

So with each service more “intelligent, “Google says it will make for better search results over time, as well as serving up ads that are more targeted to users’ habits much like Facebook already does. The new policy makes the service more intuitive as well. For instance, if you’re searching for a Jaguar the car, the search engine at some point will know that you’re searching for a vehicle and not the animal. Plus, it may get to the point where Google can let you know when you’re going to be late for a meeting, based on your calendar items, location and local traffic conditions.

By the way, there is no way to opt out, which is one of the reasons some members of Congress are asking Google a few questions. And they want answers this month.  So you’re either in or you’re not, which means you can cancel all of your Google accounts that are affected by this sharing scheme, or keep them and be a participant in the parade of information cross-referencing. Of course for some businesses that would mean completely dismantling their Google communications services and starting all over with some other service.

Some may say this new policy ranks right up there with the Big Brother theory of surveillance. The thought of the unblinking eye of the government tracking a person’s every movement. Maybe. You decide. Take a look at Google’s Policies & Principles site for the new privacy policy, and terms and conditions at www.google.com/policies. Let us know what you think.

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