GoogleIf you have not already noticed the pop-ups from Google asking you to review their new privacy policy, you may be living under a rock. Google announced massive changes to its privacy policy which seem to contradict everything Google has stood for in protecting user data.

While Google claims its “simpler” privacy policy will benefit users, uproar has taken over the Internet everywhere from Gizmodo to The Washington Post online. In essence, Google is taking the individual privacy policies of over 60 services and combining them into one policy. For users, this may make some sense but for others, this is just the beginning of the problem for Google.

How is Google changing its privacy policy?

Basically, Google is combining privacy policies into one single document for users to agree to. This will actually apply to a handful of documents, such as Terms and Conditions, that vary from product to product on Google. If you use a Google account, which means you use more than one service tied to the same e-mail address, you will be the most affected by this change in privacy policy.

For those using a Google account for services, information from one service to another will be combined into a single data pool. This hodge podge of data can then be shared from service to service through Google and imported into targeted ads, videos and more that the company sells to advertisers. While your data itself will be safe from third parties, it is the way Google wants to share information from service to service that is in question.

Alma Whitten, Google’s Director of Privacy, said of the changes:

“In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”

Google asserts it still believes in the things that made them stand out from other web sites and search engines over the years. Things such as being able to take your data with you and not selling your information. However, these platitudes have fallen on deaf ears as more and more people are beginning to question whether Google wants to change the world or simply join the corporate atmosphere of earning money above standing by principle.

Google’s changes to its privacy policy take effect March 1st, 2012. You can opt to accept the changes now or wait until later but come the deadline, if you want to continue to use Google, you will be forced to accept the changes whether you agree to them or not.

One policy, one Google experience

You can read the Google’s new Privacy Policy, Terms of Service and FAQ now.

You will also be prompted to read about the changes upon logging into a service if you have not already received the e-mail Google has sent out about the changes.

How does Google’s privacy policy changes directly affect you?

Let’s say you wake up one morning and decide you want to check out what the buzz is about with Madonna’s upcoming Super Bowl appearance. You use YouTube to first try to preview some tracks from her new album or watch her latest music video. After watching a few videos, you head out to work for the day and later that same day you decide to check your e-mail. You may be greeted with ads for Madonna’s latest album and local retailers who carry it. Google took the information you searched for on YouTube and changed the way the ads worked in Gmail to display what they thought you might want to see.

Google will basically be able to take the information you use on multiple services, share them with others and personalize what they call the “Google experience” for you. While for some this may be beneficial or they see no harm, for others this is an invasion of privacy especially when it comes to data from their chats, calendars and e-mails that they thought were safe from such intrusion.

The debate over Google’s changes to its privacy policy and the way it uses data have just begun, make sure to do your own research and make up your own mind if you can live with what Google is to become on March 1st, 2012.

  • Mikael Dahl says:

    I think people changing services because of this is just childish.

    OK, google uses ads relevant to you and SO WHAT, who cares, ok google knows more about you than youself do but OK, apple, microsoft and other big tech companies also does this…!

    • For some people, this change isn’t childish. It is what they feel is right for them. While others may understand how information and data really flows on the Internet and realize it doesn’t matter in the long run, for others just the “change” is enough to make them feel secure even if that’s not what is being offered.