About Google’s “New” Privacy Policy

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Lots of people are talking about the “new” Google privacy policy that was announced by Google yesterday (Tuesday, January 24th). But really, it’s not so much a new privacy policy as it is a restatement and consolidation of the privacy policies that they have had in place all along, and a statement of their intention to start doing more with the personal data to which use you have already agreed.

The language in the announcement that has most people up in arms is this:

The main change is for users with Google Accounts. Our new Privacy Policy makes clear that, if you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.


This is not new – Google has told users this for years. What is new is, again, that they are going to start actually acting on it, and are making that clear now.

Explains Google, “But there’s so much more that Google can do to help you by sharing more of your information with … well, you. We can make search better—figuring out what you really mean when you type in Apple, Jaguar or Pink. We can provide more relevant ads too. For example, it’s January, but maybe you’re not a gym person, so fitness ads aren’t that useful to you. We can provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day. Or ensure that our spelling suggestions, even for your friends’ names, are accurate because you’ve typed them before. People still have to do way too much heavy lifting, and we want to do a better job of helping them out.”

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In other words, Google is going to look at everything that they know about you – and let’s face it, it’s a lot* – and they are going to use all of that knowledge to serve up better advertising (better for whom is open to debate), better search results (ditto) and, undoubtedly, better advertiser experience.

*Want to see how much they already know about you? Just be logged into your Google account (any account) and then check out ‘your’ Google Dashboard.

Following this announcement, Google sent email to all of their users. Here is what it says:

 

Dear Google user,

We’re getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google.

We believe this stuff matters, so please take a few minutes to read our updated Privacy Policy and Terms of Service at http://www.google.com/policies. These changes will take effect on March 1, 2012.

One policy, one Google experience

Easy to work across Google
Our new policy reflects a single product experience that does what you need, when you want it to. Whether reading an email that reminds you to schedule a family get-together or finding a favorite video that you want to share, we want to ensure you can move across Gmail, Calendar, Search, YouTube, or whatever your life calls for with ease.

Tailored for you
If you’re signed into Google, we can do things like suggest search queries – or tailor your search results – based on the interests you’ve expressed in Google+, Gmail, and YouTube. We’ll better understand which version of Pink or Jaguar you’re searching for and get you those results faster.

Easy to share and collaborate
When you post or create a document online, you often want others to see and contribute. By remembering the contact information of the people you want to share with, we make it easy for you to share in any Google product or service with minimal clicks and errors.

Protecting your privacy hasn’t changed
Our goal is to provide you with as much transparency and choice as possible, through products like Google Dashboard and Ads Preferences Manager, alongside other tools. Our privacy principles remain unchanged. And we’ll never sell your personal information or share it without your permission (other than rare circumstances like valid legal requests).

Understand how Google uses your data
If you want to learn more about your data on Google and across the web, including tips and advice for staying safe online, check out http://www.google.com/goodtoknow

Got questions?
We got answers.
Visit our FAQ at http://www.google.com/policies/faq to read more about the changes. (We figured our users might have a question or twenty-two.)

Notice of Change
March 1, 2012 is when the new Privacy Policy and Terms will come into effect. If you choose to keep using Google once the change occurs, you will be doing so under the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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One thought on “About Google’s “New” Privacy Policy

  1. Googles “If you don’t like, leave.” attitude is a bad indicator. They don’t care what we think. I have 3 Droids and Gmail. All are going out.

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