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All Google Users
• The data that Google collects has not changed, but the way it will use it will change.
• Taking the time to adjust privacy settings gives users more control, but still may leave many confused.
Privacy policies and terms of service aren’t exactly riveting literature, so if you haven’t rushed into cuddling up with the thing and getting to know it better, I don’t blame you. So, I thought I’d take a few minutes to give an overview of what it is and the important takeaways.
And as much as Google is trying to make this information public and available to its users, let’s be real, freak-outs will still ensue.
This is why Google had to come up with this very straightforward, easy-to-read policy because on March 1, it’s Google’s way or the highway. To be fair, Google says it’s still collecting the same information as it always has. It’s just being used in new ways. And, according to Google, you still have the same liberties to control privacy.
Google has promised that whenever it makes significant changes, it will do its best to let users know exactly what those are so users aren’t blind-sighted. Does this mean people are going to read it? No. Does it mean people still won’t freak-out? No. But Google is doing its due diligence with spreading the word, see?
Google works in mysterious ways … OK, I take that back, Google tends to work in methodical, strategic ways. And if you’ve been following Google long enough, you begin to see patterns of how they roll things out, and how each individual feature or product fits into the big picture.
But, I suppose it’s not the ads that are the problem, it’s people and entities knowing stuff about you that you may not want publicized … but then we have to go back to the idea that if you don’t want something publicized, don’t share it online. It’s kind of a vicious cycle. People want to be able to participate in this thing called the World Wide Web, but then they also want the same anonymity in the virtual world as the have in the more-private physical world. This is just not possible.
“Maybe we can tell you that you’ll be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and the local traffic conditions.”
Helpful, yes. Creepy? Kinda. But, to reinforce what Google is trying to convey: it’s not any information Google wasn’t already gathering from you.
- Privacy principles remain unchanged. Google’s privacy principles tell us how it approaches privacy and user information across all products. It also says users still have the option to manage individual data through Google Dashboard and ad preferences.
- No more new data collected than prior. Again, Google is reinforcing that the data is not different, the way it uses the data is.
Following that link, we see a list of terms regarding how Google shares the information it collects. It says Google does not share personal information unless certain circumstances apply.
The first circumstance is “with your consent” and Google goes on to say that, “We will share personal information with companies, organizations or individuals outside of Google when we have your consent to do so. We require opt-in consent for the sharing of any sensitive personal information.”
The opt-in feature is only for what Google dubs “sensitive personal information” that contains things like medical facts, racial or ethnic origins, political or religious beliefs or sexuality. Outside of that, it seems using the new Google after March 1 essentially means you are agreeing to Google’s new terms of service, that is, giving Google permission to do with your data what it pleases (based on the privacy settings you have chosen).
Here’s what Google says has changed:
- The readability factor of the terms and services, plus the condensation of many terms of service for many Google products and services into simpler terms that apply to its products and services across the board.
Take Control with Your Privacy Settings & Through Knowledge
Here’s a couple simple ways you can control the way your data is used and understand what it’s all about:
- Go to your Google Dashboard and manage the privacy settings for the individual Google services. Uh, remember when I said “simple” way to control data? Well, this is one of those get-a-cup-of-coffee-this-could-take-you-a-while tasks. But, it’s a great way to get acquainted with the information Google collects and how it fits into the big picture. Here’s a video to help you understand more about Dashboard:
Are You In or Are You Out?
Here’s how I see it: You have three choices under Google’s future of search:
- Go with it and ride the wave of personalization to have an extremely relevant search experience.
- Continue to use Google but control as much as possible what Google does with your information through privacy settings, thus impacting the full extent of personalization.
- Stop using Google.
The changes Google is making with its search functions will either invoke great praise or mass aversion by the public. Perhaps a more realistic view is that majority of the general public will probably not even notice or understand what’s really happening (and I don’t mean that in disrespect). Those who use search for leisure not business might be pleasantly surprised at the new results or totally baffled. Either way, many will just go with it.
It makes me wonder though if this most recent change by Google finally opens the door to other “little search engines that could” finally making their way into mainstream usage. Will this new personalization turn off enough people to make an impact on Google’s market share or will it simply make our lives easier through these new online experiences?
What’s your take? Tell us in the comments below!