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Google Privacy Your Rights Online

Google Consolidates Privacy Policies Across Services 239

parallel_prankster writes "The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Google will require users to allow the company to follow their activities across e-mail, search, YouTube, and other services; a radical shift in strategy that is expected to invite greater scrutiny of its privacy and competitive practices. The information will enable Google to develop a fuller picture of how people use its growing empire of Web sites. Consumers will have no choice but to accept the changes. The policy will take effect March 1 and will also impact Android mobile phone users. 'If you're signed in, we may combine information you've provided from one service with information from other services,' Alma Whitten, Google's director of privacy, product, and engineering, wrote in a blog post." The angle of the Washington Post article is a bit negative; Google sees this as consolidating an absurd number of privacy policies for its various services into a single, unified document. Reader McGruber adds: "Donald E. Graham, the Washington Post's chairman and CEO, joined Facebook's Board of Directors in January 2009. Curiously, the Washington Post article neglects to disclose that."
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Google Consolidates Privacy Policies Across Services

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  • Great idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <`ten.tsacmoc' `ta' `yburxyno'> on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @10:33AM (#38817881)

    I think this is a great idea for both users and the company. Users have only a single place that they have to go to for their privacy concerns. Likewise for the company they only have to have corporate counsel review one privacy policy instead of several. The company saves money and the consumer saves hassle.

    Note that I'm only talking about the idea of consolidating the privacy policies themselves. I am not talking about the merit of whether or not the privacy policy is a good one or not.

  • The amazing thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AdrianKemp ( 1988748 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @10:38AM (#38817927)

    is that people are surprised or even upset about this.

    Google is an ad company, nothing more. Of course they're going to grub for every last iota of personal information they can -- it's what they do.

  • Re:Great idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fast turtle ( 1118037 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @10:45AM (#38817965) Journal

    The explanation as given makes an awful lot of sense. Simply put, as they've purchased many of the products they're offering, they've had mulitple privacy statements. All that is happening now is that they're finally consolidating those items into "Google" tm itself, thus they can finally simplify and consolidate many of the privacy statements into a single version, which in my mind is a "Good Thing" as I'll be able to follow any changes to those services I use on a daily basis.

    One thing I've always figured is that Google was using any and all of the information they have collected on me to target their ads to me so this actually pleases me because I don't have to look all over the place for each services privacy statement to know what they actually collect and how they use it. It is important to note that as they've said, some products/services have regulatory compliance issues, thus they will retain individual privacy statements in order to comply with those regulations.

  • by mr1911 ( 1942298 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @10:51AM (#38818003)
    People need to wake up and realize there is no "free" service. Google provides things that cost them substantial dollars to create and maintain but users do not directly pay for. Your information is what you trade for Google's services. No one is forced or coerced into using Google's services. There are alternatives out there that you can pay for and expect lock your privacy down.

    It is no different than anything else. There is a restaurant in town I will not go to because their service is pitiful. I refuse to support their model with my dollars. If you don't like Google's practices, you are free to take your private information to another email/search/whatever provider.

    Of course most of this is wasted thought, because many of those complaining about Google violating their privacy just updated their location from their phone, posted what they had for breakfast on Facebook, and tweeted details of their morning bowel movement.
  • by ralphdaugherty ( 225648 ) <> on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @10:54AM (#38818031) Homepage

    I have to be signed in to be able to disable as much of the personalization crap as possible to have some semblance of the Google that I used to love. Also to subscribe in Youtube and view 18+ videos.

    What I don't want is them changing anything I enter or changing what I see based on anything about me. But they are bound and determined to do exactly that.

    I don't want to be helped. Show me ads relevant to content, but leave me out of it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @10:57AM (#38818055)

    In a shock revelation this morning, journalists from McGruber "but I haven't told you where my interests lie" Inc. have uncovered credible information that doctors - professionals who spend much of their time administering advice, medication and surgery to sick people - also make money from providing these services. A spokesperson for doctors has been consulted to ask her why it is that all sentences uttered by doctors do not include a clear and explicit statement of this obvious conflict of interest.

    Professor of Internet Argument Steve Meretzky at the University of Life states, "We have no idea why doctors have gone so long without admitting this. It opens them up to immediate defeat by ad hominem and a warm, smug glow on the face of the other party." The Professor then suggested that the warm, smug glow could be reinterpreted by doctors as a sign of illness and used to sell patients more unnecessary healthcare.

    Rep. Simon Schama (DR., Washingwa), promises to next week propose a bill requiring all doctors to explain to their patients how jobs work. "You can trust me," he explains, "because made a campaign promise during the last election that I would only accept campaign contributions from the media industry, but not the medical industry."

    We look forward to updating readers on progress in the legislature.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @10:58AM (#38818059)

    Google's new unprivacy policy sucks.

    In what way? I'm not saying it doesn't; I have no idea what the issues are or are claimed to be. Just saying that there's one policy now instead of many before doesn't seem to be a problem - in fact it increases the chance that a user can take the time to understand the policy that applies. Does it allow disclosure of data that wasn't permitted before? Or use by staff who wouldn't have had access before? What are the actual changes in policy language that achieve this?

  • by wooferhound ( 546132 ) <> on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @11:08AM (#38818135) Homepage
    You could always Opt-Out
  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @11:10AM (#38818157) Homepage Journal

    Alright: the article says two things:

    1. Google is creating a single, simple, privacy policy (GOOD!)
    2. The policy includes provisions that allow Google to share data with Google - that is, if you go to, and then go to, Google will use the information that you put on both sites, consolidate it, and use it to select what ads to show you. (OH NOES! BAAAD!)

    Now, the billion dollar question: the second point is a surprise to me and probably 99% of the people here. Why? Because I pretty much thought Google already did that. I mean, why wouldn't they? When I'm on GMail and Google Maps and Google Plus I have a big bar on the top of the screen reminding me I'm logged into the Google.

    Is it evil? Well, depends really on what they do with that information. If they make an agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield that anyone searching for the words "Cancer symptoms" will automatically have their name, address, and social security number sent to, then yeah. If, on the other hand, they use it so that serves an ad for "Underworld" because you watched all the vampire shows on Youtube, received email from someone called "", and did a Google images search for "women in black latex catsuits", then so what?

    And there's the rub. We pretty much know what Google does with this information. It's using it to select ads for us to see. I can see how collecting data enables Google to do evil, but I don't think collecting data requires Google do evil. Google can keep the information private, and use it to provide a service that's useful for advertisers and, to some extent, advertisees alike. That's not evil. And to the best of my knowledge (that is, nobody's reported evidence of the contrary) that's what Google does.

    I really don't see this as being anything other than another fake controversy covering a company that's made a lot of enemies lately.

  • Re:Great idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wjousts ( 1529427 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @11:11AM (#38818177)
    I don't think a single privacy policy is the problem. Clearly that'll be a good thing. I think what people are objecting to is that the policy in question will mix your data from each of those Google services together which (somewhat surprisingly) they don't currently do. So now your search history will be linked to your e-mail and to your YouTube viewing. [Some] people are uncomfortable with that.
  • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wjousts ( 1529427 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @11:14AM (#38818197)
    ...right up until the point you are searching Google at work and it starts flashing up ads for midget porn based on that mailing list you signed up for in your personal gmail account.
  • by ralphdaugherty ( 225648 ) <> on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @11:34AM (#38818455) Homepage

    I already opt out of everything new they've been doing as possible. However they appear to be determined to alter what I see based on my actions, "helping" me.

    It's already marginal as to what I'm able to opt out of, and it's rapidly getting worse. Their vision of internet utopia doesn't match mine.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @11:35AM (#38818473) Journal

    Yes but will you now admit that "do no evil" is no different and just as much bullshit as "think different" or "What do you want to do today?" (had to go look that last one up, wow MSFT sucks at catch phrases don't they?) because all three are NOTHING but marketing BS. If Google could make an extra 15% by throwing a random Google user into a pit of horny gorillas i have no doubt we'd be seeing gorilla loving on YouTube before the day was out. it doesn't matter HOW a company starts out once they get to a certain level there is simply too large and powerful an org there to be controlled by some silly catch phrase, no different than how Apple is nothing like that garage that Woz and Jobs hand built the first boards in.

    What scares me isn't this so much as i expected this would be coming, but the quite disturbing 'treat corporations like ballclubs' complete with cheering and booing. These companies aren't FOR you, hell the ballclubs aren't FOR you as khan let slip with his "I only care about season ticket holders" gaffe, so cheering and booing these corps is not only stupid but more than a little dangerous because it gives these corps more power. If congress started investigating Google how many letters do you think would be wrote telling them to /slips blanket over head/ "Leave poor Google alone" do you think? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? as the economies of the world continue to sour these corps are gonna get nastier folks, once they are used to making X profits they simply aren't gonna settle for X-Y which is why we got the *.A.As pushing SOPA/PIPA because god forbid they don't meet the quarterly earnings reports, so please, judge companies by their douchebag behavior, not some marketing slogan.

  • by Webmoth ( 75878 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @11:49AM (#38818615) Homepage

    That's not a privacy policy! That's a voyeurism policy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @12:16PM (#38818957)

    Didn't you ever think they are not bothered if they know your real name or not, the adverts they target at Hick Dead are just as relevant to you anyway, assuming that what you view on utube, google or have in your inbox reflect your views and purchasing decisions

  • big difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @01:02PM (#38819479)

    You're not correct. And THAT is where the big difference between Google and Facebook lies. Google sells eyes, but the fact of the matter is that they are anonymous eyes, but sold as eyes belonging to people most likely to purchase the product being marketed. However, until you click on that link, all the company knows is that they've been matched to you by the black box of Google magic.

    Facebook, on the other hand, shares information with "partners". They are BY DEFINITION a personal info vendor.

    Google sells ads, and tailors them to the vendor. Facebook sells your data to the vendor directly. BIG difference in privacy implications.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @05:37PM (#38822669) Homepage Journal

    Yes, it looks like code from young talented people with little experiences. Exactly what you expect hiring people right out of college.

    IO'm fucking tired of people like you making up shit as justification over your hate.

    So your argument is "They are big, therefore they are bad."

    Nice. Try again when you can actually have an argument.

    Oh, it's not just Google. I hate irrational justification using logically fallacious reasononig in any discussion.

  • by paanta ( 640245 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @09:42AM (#38827699) Homepage
    To me, it's not what they sell now, but what they might be willing to sell in the future. This data persists a long time.

    You can already buy consumer data analytics systems with fancy GIS based interfaces that allow you to click on an individual house and pull up hundreds of records. What type of movies they watch, how old they are, what prescription drugs they do (or might) take, who employs them, what types of purchase they make, psychographic profiles, etc. They pull from hundreds of public and private data sources, then consolidate and geocode *everything*. Bob Jones likes to buy hydroponics supplies and glass pipes, laxatives and My Little Ponies. Sally Fields apparently collects Chia Pets. I suppose it's fine when just advertisers and marketers are using this stuff, but it gets real creepy when it moves beyond that.

    I'm fine with customized ads from Google, but I want it de-identified and siloed as much as possible and not linked across services. Not being a lawyer, I dunno how privacy policies and EULAs translate in this circumstance, but it's easy for me to imagine a hypothetical bankruptcy fire sale of Google assets in which their data was made available to these consumer data warehouses.

    The applications for this stuff are in their infancy, but it's very easy to imagine a scary future. Do I really want my state child protective services cross referencing households with children with households of, I dunno, atheists? Or the DEA looking up all the aforementioned buyers of grow lights? Or my city cross referencing the purchases of plumbing supplies with people who pulled permits to try to find building code violators? Or some loony group like Westboro Baptist Church publishing some kind of index of the best people to target for harassment or worse? Or employers building enormous psychological profiles of all their employees to try to weed out the subversive types?

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.