Google’s New Privacy Policy Will Track Users

Several weeks ago Google announced a new version of its privacy policy that will take effect Thursday, and since then there’s been a lot of controversy about the changes it’s made.

Essentially, what’s happening is that by tomorrow, one privacy policy will apply to all of Google’s services. In the policies section of the website, it is stated that the new policy is more concise and easier to read.

All the ongoing talks about the changes have been largely negative, and are rightfully so despite the claim that the new policy is meant to provide users with an “intuitive” experience across Google.

The company will be able to track the activity of anyone using any of its services by tomorrow, and that’s a lot of people.

Gmail, Blogger, Picassa, YouTube, Earth, News, and Books, are just some of the many products Google offers.

Google has done its part in informing its users about the changes in an ample amount of time before anything is implemented. It encourages users to read the new policy and watch informative videos on its website.

But really, who’s jumping up and down to read seemingly endless pages of legal jargon?

The company probably knows more than half its users aren’t going to read such boringly written policies. but it really is important to know what’s going on, even if the policy is written so dryly.

Some of the bigger privacy concerns should stem from how information is collected.

By tomorrow, Google may collect information revealing the following: hardware model, operating system version, mobile network information including your phone number. Google may link your account with your phone number.

There’s also the gathering of even more information, like what you search, numbers you call (probably using Google Talk), your IP address, and device activity (like if your system crashes, hardware settings, the browser being used, and language, among others).

For those who use a location-enabled service, like Google Maps, the company may retrieve information about your specific location. This information may include GPS signals from a cell phone, and sensor data that can be obtained from wireless Internet access points and cell towers.

Additionally, (though this isn’t new), it’s important to keep in mind that while users retain copyright to content submitted to Google, the company can use that content to promote its services:

“When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps).”

This block of text is included in the Terms and Service that will take effect tomorrow, and perhaps the most striking addition is found in the last sentence. Since Google can keep using submitted content even following termination with its services, it seems to indirectly say that the company retains copies of anything submitted.

Google will also be using cookies and anonymous identifiers to gather and store information. And if users delete cookies, they are restored in the browser when users sign into their accounts again.

Since 2000 Google has altered its privacy policy nearly 10 times, and made changes twice in 2009.

Here are a few resources Google users can peruse to find out how to remove data on Google.

http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57382925-285/how-to-remove-your-google-web-history/

http://www.networkworld.com/news/2012/022712-google-privacy-policy-256399.html?page=2 – 6 things you need to know about Google’s new privacy policy

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