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Google Privacy Policy Changing - for Better & Worse

by on January 29, 2012
in Computers and Software, News, Internet & Networking, Computer Safety & Support, Blog, Privacy :: 17 comments

Google Privacy

Starting March 1st, Google will be consolidating more than 60 privacy policies into one and make your data available across Google products. The company says it is changing to make its services more intuitive and improve search. For example, by tracking what you write about in Gmail, post on Google+ or watch on YouTube, Google will be better able to guess whether you’re looking for a hotel in France or a certain famous blond heiress if you search for “Paris Hilton.”

By unifying all your data, Google products will also be able to complement each other. That means if Google knows the location of your Android phone and sees on your Google Calendar that you’re going to be late for an appointment, not only can it alert you but it can also provide you with driving directions on how to get there through Maps.

There’s been quite a bit of uproar about these changes. For one thing, you can’t opt out.

Second, even though Google has been delivering targeted ads to users for a long time (it reads your email messages in Gmail and gives you ads relevant to what your messages say), with all this aggregated data coming together from different products the company will be able to deliver hyper-targeted ads because it will have a profile about everything you do online: How you spend your time, who you communicate with, what you buy—everything. And some people worry about what would happen should these robust behavioral profiles get into the wrong hands—the government or hackers, for example.

If Google’s data integration troubles you, you could stop using Google services, but honestly, there are so many ways companies are tracking everything you do online you’re not likely to get back much of your privacy by doing so. If you’re not up to speed on data mining, online profiling and the tracking cookies on almost every popular commercial website, check out our story on the subject.

And some people have been recommending that people use Facebook or Twitter instead of Google+, but Facebook is doing just as much tracking of user behavior as anybody.

In fact, what Google is trying to do is become like Facebook. It’s practically ramming Google+ down the throats of users. Users who enter their Google account credentials into phones with Android 4.0 (a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich) are now prompted to sign up for Google+. And since mid-December the social network has been integrated into Gmail so users can do things like upload a photo they receive in Gmail directly to Google+ without have to download the image then upload it to the cloud.

And just two weeks ago Google reworked its search engine with “Search Plus Your World” which returns Google+ social content mixed in with the search results. For instance, if I search for the singer “Mayer Hawthorne” the second search result I get is a YouTube video featuring one of his songs that I posted to my Google+ account. Since I am well aware what I’m posting online, I’m not sure why I want my search results clogged up with my Google+ posts.

There’s a reason people call Google a search engine giant. For the company to so thoroughly mess with its core product is truly a wonder and to me sort of feels like a sellout as it tries seemingly anything to gain ground against Facebook. Clearly the Google of yesteryear—one that was careful to never detract from the search box and the core mission of providing the most relevant results—is morphing into something entirely different, a search engine that doctors its results. Only time will tell how consumers react to the new Google.

One thing is certain, we’ve never seen anything like this from the company, and you can’t hardly step foot anywhere on its online territory without seeing an invitation to learn more about the new privacy policy and the up-and-coming, new-and-improved data integration.

If you use any of Google’s products there’s little chance you haven’t seen a notice regarding the company’s impending changes. That’s because the company has been sending notices about the changes to Gmail users and posting them all over the web on its various products. “We’re changing our privacy policy and terms. Not the usual yada yada. Learn more,” reads a notice under the search bar at Google’s home page. “We’re changing our privacy policy. This stuff matters. Learn more,” says a note at the top of YouTube.

What’s your view? Do you like or hate the idea of a more intuitive, knowledgeable Google?



Discussion loading

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Only Time Will Tell

From Sue on January 30, 2012 :: 11:26 am

As it is with most improvements, there will still be draw backs on some fronts as the improvements help on other fronts.  It will just take time to ge use to and adapting to the new way things are to be done.

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Giving UP

From Jerryatric on January 30, 2012 :: 11:34 am

This is the reason I’m giving up anything to do with Google! Dropped my Home Page- Google, Gmail, & Google search. Thanks, forgot Google Calendar

i’ve dropped out of Facebook as well.

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I hate it. The fact

From Sharon on January 30, 2012 :: 12:31 pm

I hate it. The fact that google is as cozy as it is with the WH makes it all a bit too big-brother for me.

http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2010/05/21/andrew-mclaughlin-google-emails-examined/

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It stinks!

From Michael H Sodos on January 30, 2012 :: 12:33 pm

no more to be said! I hate the targeted ads. I hate the personalized searches. Let me do it myself!

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I'm not (thank god) too

From larry koshiol on January 30, 2012 :: 12:36 pm

I’m not (thank god) too heavy into computer use, tho I’m on it alot. I’m retired, I play games, check email, hate facebook, recipes and gardening stuff is cool, couple extra bucks on surveys, that’s about it. Who the F is google to push people around ? Isn’t that what they are doing ?
When I’m through with this, I’m going to delete everything I have that’s connected to google. Google Chrome, Google earth, goole this and google that…... So GOOGLE YOU. The sites took a stand recently and closed down. I think it’s time THE USERS took a stand against BIG BROTHER, to show their displeasure of being used like cattle. GOOGLE SUX.  tanx for your time….....
larry k….......................................

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I agree with Larry!

From Sandi Martin on January 30, 2012 :: 1:37 pm

I agree with Larry!  I never knew playing a few games would be so agrevating!  I agree with the stand on google, and leaving it!

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Agree with you Larry

From Pam F on January 30, 2012 :: 1:46 pm

Like I said in my comment below WE need to stand up against this crap going on If we can’t play a few games on the computer to have a little enjoyment w/o businesses sticking theiroses in then someting is wrog BIG time with our society today!!!!!!!

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Google info/change

From Sandi Martin on January 30, 2012 :: 1:34 pm

I hate it.  Looks as though all they are after is the bucks, no matter what we think.  I am leaving facebook for the same reason.  I am sure that most won’t even care…..until it is way too late!

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busy-bodies

From Pam F on January 30, 2012 :: 1:42 pm

Everyone wants in everyones business so they can get the all-mighty dollar! I hate the dictatorship of the companiies now! I am ready to give up my facebook and other ones to stay private as much as I can!  We need to figure out a way to FIGHT back to this ditatorship of companies and our country!! Wake up America!!!!

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Google Privacy Change

From Connie Edwards on January 30, 2012 :: 1:53 pm

I scanned over some of those changes.  You can have pages removed, though it seem laborious.  The first thing that concerns me is that if you find a page with your SSN, you can have it removed, but you have to find it - not Google.  If they are going to make all of this available to the whole world in a compact neat little package, they should take some responsibility for protecting the obvious.  At the very least, they should redact the known issues.

And, those targeted ads?  Could backfire.  Several years ago I got so sick of those Netflix pop-up ads, I’ve totally boycotted them!  Not that I’d be a huge consumer for that in any event, but when I do spend money, it’s not going to be with them.

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googlie google

From Angie on January 30, 2012 :: 2:32 pm

I hate google, always have.  Now I will NEVER go to their page.  As for my phone, they can read all they want - there’s not much there and I can text through some other format.  Agree with Larry - let’s take a stand - get to their pockets!!

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Swag, not Google!

From Martha on January 30, 2012 :: 3:24 pm

I quit using google to search when I could use swagbucks instead and make $ by searching. I only use it for my gmail account and that’s about it. Even with android phones, you can get different calendar apps, you aren’t stuck using the google calendar….there’s ways around having some much google interference in my life, and I’ll be finding them.
ps- this is not a ad or anything for SB, just saying that there are plenty of search engines out there that deliver more than just great results!

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Ignore ads

From Violet on January 30, 2012 :: 5:26 pm

I’ve made it a point for years to NOT buy anything in ads as they just add to the price of the product. Same for fancy packaging. Coupons are a come-on for products that have unhealthy ingredients. We could break the system if we weren’t so gullible.

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Heck...

From Carrie on January 31, 2012 :: 1:25 am

even Techlicious wants my info—can’t even leave a post without including my email!!!

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Good-bye Norma Jean

From David on January 31, 2012 :: 3:20 am

I’m waiting for the net connected toilet paper complete with pop up adds. What are you doing in there? Goggling?

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This is the same reason why I rarely use facebook and don't tweet!

From Jane on January 31, 2012 :: 3:47 am

I have to agree with Larry - I’m retired and love my computer but I’m tired of Big Brother watching what I’m doing.  I’m going to close my g-mail account which I rarely use, delete chrome and and the other Google related stuff.  Enough is enough. I rarely go in facebook - in fact I’m thinking of closing that down too.  I asked my son, what was the point of twitter?  He told me I didn’t need it - he said “Mom, it’s catnip for narcissists!” - of course, he’s right.  I also have a yahoo e-mail account and would like to get rid of that or just use it for junk mail, surveys, recipe sites, etc. and get another e-mail.  Can anyone suggest a really good provider?

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"One thing is certain, we’ve never seen anything like this from the company"

From DavidW on February 16, 2012 :: 8:33 pm

Surely you’re not serious! Everything Google has ever done has contributed to data mining at the expense of security and privacy. I remember in 2003 being on a motorcycle forum with a higher end Google executive who made no bones about the lack of privacy concerns for the sake of a better search engine. He even offered forum members free access to the beta search engines to promote their products. Google is not, and never has been to be trusted for keeping your data secure. I rarely use uTube and refuse to reply to emails from Gmail. I’ll continue to use their search engine as I don’t really care what anyone sees about what I search for, for now. grin

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