“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,” explained Google’s new policies’ website.
The policy takes effect on March 1, and while users’ privacy preferences remain, the new arrangement allows Google to gather and implement user data across its services. Google is charging ahead with Search plus Your World, Gmail, Picasa, YouTube, and Google+, so it is probably attempting to connect all the loose legal ends and make one continuous experience…
Under the unified policy, Google’s ecosystem will collect a host of user information, such as: calendar appointments, location data, personal data pulled from Gmail chatter, device information and search queries, search preferences and contacts. It is worth noting that information from Google Books, Google Wallet and Google Chrome are not integrated due to industry-specific privacy laws.
“Our goal is to provide you with as much transparency and choice as possible,” Google contended on its new policies website. “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).”
Users cannot opt-out of the policy changes, but they can close their account through Google. Also, the new policy only applies to those with a Google Account linked to services such as Gmail, Picasa or YouTube, so general Google searchers that are not signed-in will not be affected by the new policy.
“If you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services,” said Google’s Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering Alma Whitten in a blog post. “In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”
Data accumulation extends to Android users signed into their Google account; however, the policy does not go into specifics for iPhone/Blackberry/Windows 8 owners. It only mentions that if they sign into a service on any device, Google will be able to collect information about the device and its usage. The types of mobile information cropping include the device’s hardware model, operating system version, unique device identifiers and mobile network information. Other specifics like service use, search queries, telephone log information (time/date of calls and duration of calls), IP addresses, and cookies that uniquely identify the browser or Google Account will also be stockpiled.
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.
Visit Google’s FAQ section to read more about the changes, because even the company figured its users “might have a question or twenty-two” regarding privacy. Furthermore, Google offers tips and advice for staying safe online —even through the new policy— on its Good to Know website.
The “Good to Know” marketing campaign addresses the basics of identity theft, online privacy and security while including referrals to a website for more information. The issues tackled include steps required to protect online account passwords and computer coding usage to find and identify Web surfers.
Google knows all-too-well about the gaucheries of personal information safety. The company exposed personal contacts of its email users in 2010 when it launched a social service called “Buzz.” The blunder led to a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that required Google to submit to external audits of its privacy policies every other year.