| By Robert Vamosi |
Like it or not, Google has changed and consolidated its privacy policies.
Here’s a guide to help you limit and control what personal information Google collects.
A dispute over Google’s privacy policies changes
By now you’ve undoubtedly seen several e-mails and notifications from Google warning all Google users of its March 1 privacy policies changes. The company has rolled all its individual privacy policies for its many services into one global, uniform policy. It’s a given that few of us have bothered to read though the new policy, but of those who have, some are not happy with the changes.
For example, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed suit, according to a Feb. 9 Bloomberg/San Francisco Chronicle story, claiming that the new policy will further erode personal privacy. And in a letter (PDF) dated Feb. 22, the majority of state attorneys general asked Google management to “work toward a solution that will best protect the privacy needs of those who use Google’s products.” The letter states that the proposed policy “forces these consumers to allow information across all of these products to be shared, without giving them the proper ability to opt out.” The letter was signed by a sizeable majority of attorneys general, including California’s Kamala Harris, New York’s Eric Schneiderman, and Texas’s Greg Abbot.
Google, on the other hand, believes the change is simply about making its policy more accessible to users (only one document to read) and enhancing the overall Google experience. It stated in a Jan. 30 letter (PDF) to U.S. Congress members that with changes, Google is not “collecting any new or additional data about users” and that the changes don’t affect users’ existing privacy settings.
The truth is, Internet users don’t read privacy policies (or software user license agreements, for that matter) because the documents are take-it-or-leave-it agreements. We know we’re not going to be happy about what’s in them, but that’s the price we grudgingly pay for using the products.