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When Google announced impending changes to their privacy policy, the search giant said it would make the policy shorter and more readable, as well as changing the way Google can use your data. No one seems to object to the first, but the second assertion is causing yet another controversy starring the search giant. Critics say that these changes will violate users’ privacy; will it?
The most significant change to the policy is that Google will combine data across its various services, including Google+ and YouTube. Google’s director of privacy product and engineering, Alma Whitten, says, “…we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.” In a recent blog post, Whitten provided an example: combining data from Calendar and Maps could enable the search engine to deliver reminders of scheduled meetings as well as traffic updates.
The problem, though, is that users will treat you as a single user across all products. Google operates over 60 products, and information for most of these will be combined into a single user profile, if you will. (Data from Chrome and a few others will not be included.) If you are signed into your Gmail account, Google+, YouTube account, or other Google-owned product, that data is fair game.
Users cannot choose what information is shared between services, and the biggest problem with the changes is that there is no opt-out. If you don’t want your data shared, you have to close your Google accounts. Android users are never really signed out at all.
According to a “nonscientific” poll of over 13,500 Washington Post readers, 66 percent said they would cancel their Google accounts because of the impending changes; 15 percent were staying with big G, and 19 percent were not sure yet.
The Post’s Alexandra Petri writes, “Google hasn’t been itself lately. What started out as the simplest, fastest, least fussy search engine and best e-mail provider is now trying to expand into this whole Social Media thing it’s heard so much about. As often happens when someone is late to the party, the results are embarrassing.”

Posted by Hitesh Patel, Managing Director at Bullseye Media

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