Google’s New Privacy Policy

Family GeekMom

Google sent out emails to users to let them know that they’re changing their privacy policy and Terms of Service, effective March 1. That’s usually enough to start a good panic, and I doubt it will be different this time.

Just how “evil” is Google?  Well, it probably depends on who you ask. There were plenty of people spreading the rumor that Google was stealing all your content, when really they were just doing normal Internet-y stuff, like allowing you to upload, store, and post it. You’ve always retained copyright. The good news is that Google’s new Terms of Service are a lot clearer about that. They’re also simpler and apply across all services, except when the service itself says otherwise (open source software allows you to modify it, for example.)

The privacy policy changes are a biggie, however.  Google is going to combine info across services. That means when you search, the search algorithms will consider your contacts, your email messages, your documents, and your recently read news articles when returning your search results. That sounds pretty Big Brotherish, but I suspect you’ll like the search results better, anyway. It’s also likely going to mean less logging in. I don’t know about you, but I’m annoyed when I have to log into YouTube separately, even though it’s tied to my Gmail address and uses the same password.

Google also assures us that they’re not going to tie DoubleClick advertising info with personally identifying information unless you opt in. Better hope that opt in option is obvious and clear. Google has my phone number, credit card information, and address. It’s bad enough that they’re taunting across websites. I don’t need my banner ads to call me by name.

The bad, the ugly. This means Wil Wheaton’s rule applies tenfold. If you get caught breaking the rules, you can be locked out of everything you use on most of the Internet. Google still needs to work on their tools to get people out of that situation if they break rules unknowingly, are hacked, or end up being falsely accused.

What do you say? Are you ditching the Google come March 1st, are you launching a protest, or are you just going to passively accept that they knew all your personal data anyway and enjoy the integrated services?

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2 thoughts on “Google’s New Privacy Policy

  1. I’ll be staying with Google because I refrain from putting any personal information everywhere I can. You want my credit card information? Why? How are you protecting it? If it’s not clear enough in the FAQs, I don’t put it in. I don’t even think most of my email accounts have my correct name. I’m in Information Security so I’m paranoid since I know it’s not safe anywhere.

  2. Google is my search engine, I use gmail, and love my Android phone. However, I don’t use Google+ or Google Docs or the Chrome browser, don’t sync my phone contacts with my e-mail, and while I’d be happy to buy the paid version of some of my phone apps, I’d rather not provide my credit card number on the interwebs unless absolutely necessary (c’mon G, open up to PayPal why don’cha?). I’m not in Info Security, but I don’t think it’s paranoid to know it isn’t all that safe out there…. I was an early adopter of the Google browser and appreciated the company all the more for its “Don’t Be Evil” motto; however, I’m not sure that ethos is still intact, and I find my trust and confidence starting to crack the more overarching their reach (and grasp) are becoming.

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