Friday, January 27, 2012

Google's Not Really New Privacy Policy

Several of my readers have been asking for clarification on the new Google unified Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. A few articles have been published and today I received formal notification in my GMail account with links to a few pages containing an overview, current and new policies.

Google have more than 60 different services and each have their own policy on privacy and use. What Google have done is reduce these to one policy which will be used to govern all current and future service offerings. This is merely an attempt to make it easier for the subscriber to know the rules regardless of the particular service. But it does mean Google will now be assembling a more comprehensive and integrated picture of subscribers by commingling the data from all of the services used.

First, let's look at what has changed in the policy. In a word, nothing. All the rights and privileges, protections, promises and procedures under the old terms are still in force in the new version. There are no substantial additions or deletions and the level of protection over your personal data remains the same.

The change in practice does, however, mean that information gleaned from your use of any service will be combined with similar information from the use of other services to create a more comprehensive profile about you. Videos you select on YouTube (while signed in) will add to the equation when you conduct a Google search to better focus the results to your preferences. I love the example of an individual who views automobiles on YouTube and frequently writes email or Google Plus postings about cars. A Google search for jaguars is then going to produce content about the automobile and not the animal for this person.

Next, let's be clear about just how private your information is kept. Don't take my word for it. Read the policy yourself. It clearly states that Google will not sell or release your personal information to anyone without your permission. It may be handled by third parties for processing but will remain subject to the same privacy restrictions.

Google publish a very easy to read guide about how to stay safe on-line and keep your data secure. Google only aggregates data and sells the results without links to individuals. Google observe and document trends and human behavior which is information of significant value to companies. But the actions or behavior are never identified to the individual unless the individual has specifically opted in.

If you still have concerns of would like to understand the services Google offer and how they could advance your business efficiently and securely, feel free to contact me. All you have to do is click on the call me tool below the author bio on the right.

I promise I'll keep the conversation just between us.

Captain Joe

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