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What Does Google’s New Privacy Policy Mean for You?

Google’s new Privacy Policy went into effect today, March 1st.  If you use any of Google’s multiple products, you’ve surely seen the notifications of the impending changes.  But what does it mean for users?

Simply put, not much, at first glance.

Google Isn’t Sharing Data With Outside Parties

With the new changes in policy, Google can now share the data it has about you from Google service to Google service. It’s not sharing any new info with outside parties, just amongst its numerous services. The overriding reason Google presents this, is that it will allow the company to make its products better and more personally relevant to the user.

Google’s Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering, Alma Whitten, wrote: “As you use our products one thing will be clear: it’s the same Google experience that you’re used to, with the same controls… And because we’re making these changes, over time we’ll be able to improve our products in ways that help our users get the most from the web.”

Google Director of Public Policy, Pablo Chavez states:

  1. We’re still keeping your private information private — we’re not changing the visibility of any information you have stored with Google.
  2. We’re still allowing you to do searches, watch videos on YouTube, get driving directions on Google Maps, and perform other tasks without signing into a Google Account.
  3. We’re still offering you choice and control through privacy tools like Google Dashboard and Ads Preferences Manager that help you understand and manage your data.
  4. We still won’t sell your personal information to advertisers.
  5. We’re still offering data liberation if you’d prefer to close your Google Account and take your data elsewhere.

The New Changes Make it Easier to Combine Info Within Google

In a letter to Congress, Google explained that the old policies have restricted the company’s ability to combine info within an account for web history (search history for signed in users) and YouTube. “For example, if a user is signed in and searching Google for cooking recipes, our current privacy policies wouldn’t let us recommend cooking videos when she visits YouTube based on her searches – even though she was signed into the same Google Account when using both Google Search and YouTube.”

To summarize, Google’s newest changes have no obvious marked effect on privacy outside of Google products.  The new policy simply makes it easier navigate and search inside  the (albeit increasingly scary) Google world.

Do you think Google’s new privacy policy is invasive?  How do you feel about the consolidation of private information in the service?

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