26 April 2012

The Google Privacy Debate

When Google announced it's new privacy policy on 1st March, it summarized  the changes succinctly in just 3 points:

  • Our Privacy Policy is now much easier to understand.
  • Our Privacy Policy will enable us to build a better, more intuitive user experience across Google for signed-in users.
  • Our privacy controls aren’t changing.

In addition, the new policy doesn’t change any existing privacy settings or how any personal information is shared outside of Google. 
"We aren’t collecting any new or additional information about users. We won’t be selling your personal data. And we will continue to employ industry-leading security to keep your information safe."

Yes Google does:
  1. Ask for your personal information when you sign up
  2. Gather information about your hardware and software when you use it's services
  3. And even information on your location, search history, call history, location, mode of access etc.. amongst others... to make your experience across it's properties more relevant and personalized.
And, if you think sharing this information will NOT improve your experience, use privacy control tools to do things like edit or turn off search or YouTube search history. Use another accounts for information about yourself you don't like mixed. Or browse incognito even via Chrome.

It's therefore surprising there's even a debate about the new privacy policy.

And for those who continue to view Google with suspicion, I have just 2 simple arguments:
  1. As with anything interactive, the user has to make the first move to engage. And has the choice to refrain from clicking on an ad or marketing message.
  2. Today, Google makes most of it's money from clicks. If it's privacy policies prevent people from engaging with ads across it's network, wouldn't it be putting itself out of business?
Lastly, Google again on how it's making ads safe, in addition to making them relevant and personal.

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