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Google's Privacy Policy


You may have heard a little hubbub recently about Google's planned change to its Privacy Policies.

Beginning March 1, Google will replace 60+ existing product-specific privacy documents with a single, recently rewritten privacy policy. What's different about this new privacy policy? Google can treat you as a single user across all of their products.

What's the issue?
Google says this change will improve the user experience. Critics say the change will make it harder for users to limit what Google can do with their information.

What does Google say about people's concerns?
Google has several blog posts that address concerns that have been raised, as well as a post addressing some of the "myths" circulating about the upcoming change.

Google also has some tools to help you control your information: 

If you haven't already checked out the Google Dashboard, it's a great place to start. Concerned about your Google search information being available to other services? You might want to start by disabling Web History and opting out of Search Personalization.

What are your options?
The options are pretty simple. Disagree with the policy? Opt out and use non-Google services. Want to keep using Google services? Accept the policy and do what you can to address your concerns.

This post from Jon Mitchell at ReadWriteWeb, in addition to pooh-pooh-ing some of the concerns about the policy change, has this common sense advice:

"If you don't like Search plus Your World, you can opt right out. You can opt out of sharing browser history by using incognito mode. You can also opt out of targeted ads. You can't opt out of Google's new privacy policy, because that's how Google's business is going to work from here on out. The data you create anywhere on Google are available to the rest of Google. Google is one big service for better or for worse."  

Want to get a little less cozy with Google?  Check out Wired's "Hide from Google" post.


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Thanks for consolidating all these articles Kerri. When it was first announced I was just wishing it would go away. This will make searching and tracking the relevant information easier.

Thanks for your post Kerri - I think you've done a good job of highlighting that you can have some control by toggling Google settings, and also pointing out that people don't have to use the services! Or of course log out if they want to be more discreet.

In some instances, I think the changes can be helpful - such as reminding you that you'll be late for a meeting based on your location, or tailored ads having the benefit of potentially being more relevant to the user - this is something we discuss in more detail which may be of interest to you http://www.3seven9.com/blog/3341/is-googles-new-privacy-policy-convenient-or-creepy?c=BGc.

I think in many ways Google is as intrusive as you allow it to be, though I am interested by what this means for future data liberation. What are your thoughts?

Thanks for the link to your post -- it's much more complete coverage of the impact this change may have.

Personally, I'm not really surprised by any of this. Google was already tailoring search results and ads based on things that I've done and that it knows about me... this is really just an extension of that. And I agree with your statement, "in many ways Google is as intrusive as you allow it to be."

Don't know what, if anything, this will mean for data liberation... maybe if you find something helpful, you'll blog about it? :)

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