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Google is Watching: How to Decipher the New Privacy Policy

Google recently tweaked it's privacy policy, merging 60 different policies into one new feature. So how will the change affect you?

Essentially, the merging will allow all cross-platform information collected about you to be stored in one place, including info from Gmail, Google+, YouTube. Each of these applications hold gigabytes of data on any one user and, keep in mind, Google's tracking technology used to collect this data is the best in the business. 

"In short, we'll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience," explained Alma Whitten, director of Google privacy, product and engineering during the policy change introduction.

Google insists the change benefits the user more than anything else by seamlessly syncing Google products, helping to customize search results and providing ads targeted to your interests. While Google says it will not sell your personal information to advertisers or third parties, there still may be ample reason to be concerned. Google users are unable to opt out of these privacy changes unless they choose to close their accounts entirely. And the announcement has brought about public outcries, including a letter to Google's CEO from eight congressional lawmakers.

CNet.com recommends using Google's own tools to opt out of ad networks:

"Prominent in the Google privacy policy are links to services that let you view and manage the information you share with Google. Some of this personal data you volunteer, and some of it is collected by Google as you search, browse, and use other services. 

"To view everything (almost) Google knows about you, open the Google Dashboard ... [Y]ou can view and edit the personal information stored by each Google service, or delete the service altogether. To see which other services have access to the account's information, click "Websites authorized to access the account" at the top of the Dashboard. To block an authorized service from accessing the account, click Revoke Access next to the service name."

Another option is more common sense: Simply do not log in to your Google accounts when you don't need to. While users won’t have access to some of the services or documents they may have used in the past, Google will be unable to track browing history or other data when a user is logged out. 

Google's end goal is to widen its reach as far as possible and keep everyone in the “Googleverse." Just be sure to stay informed about what you're agreeing to by the time the policy takes effect on March 1st.

Monday, January 30, 2012 at 9:49 pm