What does Google’s new mandatory privacy policy mean for you?

TIM O’BRIEN
The Muse (Memorial University)

ST JOHN’S (CUP) — Late last month, Google announced its plans to amalgamate their many privacy policies into one unified document starting March 1. The new policy changes are presented as a take-it-or-leave-it option from Google.

“If you continue to use Google services after March 1, you’ll be doing so under the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. If you’d prefer to close your Google Account, you can follow the instructions in our help center,” reads Google’s FAQ page.

The new policy will replace 60 existing product-specifying privacy documents for Google services such as Gmail, YouTube and Docs. According to Google, the terms of the new policy will provide better search results and ads that are more likely to be of interest to users.

Google will have more data to work with by combining users’ history across all Google products.

Previously, and until March 1, data that Google collects about you when you use YouTube, for instance, is separated from other Google products you use. Google could use the data collected from YouTube to improve users’ YouTube experience, but couldn’t use the data to improve and customize user experience on other Google products.

Similarly, Google search data had been kept separate from other products. The corporation has previously promised not to share information gathered about users’ search history when customizing their other products.

The new policy removes the present separation between YouTube, Google products, and its search engine.

“The new policy reflects our efforts to create one beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google. It makes clear that, if you have a Google Account and are signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we can treat you as a single user across all our products,” reads Google’s FAQ page.

The new policy, however, doesn’t eliminate users’ ability to set up different accounts under different names.

“We may use the name you provide for your Google Profile across all of the services we offer that require a Google Account. In addition, we may replace past names associated with your Google Account so that you are represented consistently across all our services,” according to Google.

A Google+ account requires a real name from its users, while a YouTube account does not. As of March 1, your real name could appear across all Google’s products.

[box type="info"]To see what information Google has about you, login to Google, go to “Account Settings,” select “Products,” and then “Sign into Dashboard.” There you will find a list of Google products you use and your most recent activity for each.[/box]


Image: Google