Google revising privacy policies, data use

Jan 25, 2012
Google said it is revising its privacy policies and changing how it uses data from users of its services to provide more personalized search results and advertisements.

Google said it is revising its privacy policies and changing how it uses data from users of its services to provide more personalized search results and advertisements.

The Mountain View, California-based said the changes are designed to improve the user experience across the various products, which range from to Gmail to Google+ to YouTube.

Google said it is combining more than 60 privacy policies for its various services into a single policy that will take effect from March 1.

"We're rolling out a new main privacy policy that covers the majority of our products and explains what information we collect, and how we use it, in a much more readable way," Alma Whitten, Google's director of privacy, product and engineering, said in a blog post.

"We believe this new, simpler policy will make it easier for people to understand our privacy practices as well as enable Google to improve the services we offer," she said.

Google noted that "regulators globally have been calling for shorter, simpler privacy policies" and said it would inform users of the changes by and with a notice on the Google.com home page.

Google has found itself under increasing scrutiny from European and US regulators as it has grown from a scrappy startup into an Internet titan, branching out into various businesses including online mapping, shopping and travel and providing software for mobile phones and .

The changes to Google's are certain to draw further attention in Washington and Brussels and announcing them more than a month ahead of time appeared to be a bid to provide time for them to be digested.

Whitten said instead of having terms of service for individual products, Google was revising its terms of service to cover numerous products.

The sign-in page of social networking site Google+ is seen in Washington in August 2011. Google has found itself under increasing scrutiny from European and US regulators as it has grown from a scrappy startup into an Internet titan, branching out into various businesses including online mapping, shopping and travel and providing software for mobile phones and tablet computers.

Google account users will have to accept the new terms of service to continue using their accounts.

The main change announced Tuesday involves users who have Google accounts.

"If you're signed in, we may combine information you've provided from one service with information from other services," Whitten said.

"In short, we'll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience," Whitten said.

By linking services and sharing information "we can make search better -- figuring out what you really mean when you type in Apple, Jaguar or Pink," she said. "We can provide more relevant ads too.

"We can provide reminders that you're going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day," she said.

Merging the information about its users appears to be a bid by Google to glean a more integrated view of its users, an advantage enjoyed by Apple and Facebook.

"Companies everywhere want to break down product walls to get a 360 degree view of customers," said Larry Dignan of technology site ZDNet.

"Unified aside, it was kind of nice to have my YouTube personas different from say, Gmail and Google+" Dignan said.

"Google will know more about you than your wife does," he said. "Everything across your screens will be integrated and tracked.

Dignan said the move appears to be partly aimed at "juicing Google+" the Facebook rival launched by Google last year.

In March of last year, the US Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement with Google over Google Buzz, the social networking tool which was launched in February 2010 that spawned a slew of privacy complaints.

Under the settlement announced by the US regulator, Google is required to implement a comprehensive privacy program and will be subject to independent privacy audits every two years for the next 20 years.

The FTC also an ongoing probe into Google's lucrative search and business. Google has said it is cooperating with the FTC investigation.

Explore further: Russia's Putin calls the Internet a 'CIA project'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Google to merge user data across more services

Jan 24, 2012

Google Inc. is overhauling the way it treats user data, linking information across its array of email, video and social-networking services so that information gathered in one place can be used in another.

Google, FTC reach Google Buzz privacy settlement

Mar 30, 2011

The Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement with Google on Wednesday over Google Buzz, the social networking tool rolled out last year which spawned a slew of privacy complaints.

Privacy group files FTC complaint on Google Buzz

Feb 16, 2010

(AP) -- A privacy watchdog group complained to federal regulators on Tuesday about Google's new Buzz social networking service, saying it violates federal consumer protection law.

Google rolls out ads to ease privacy concerns

Jan 17, 2012

Google Inc., under scrutiny from privacy watchdogs for changes it made to its search engine, is launching a splashy ad campaign designed to alleviate privacy concerns.

Recommended for you

Brazil enacts Internet 'Bill of Rights'

10 hours ago

Brazil's president signed into law on Wednesday a "Bill of Rights" for the digital age that aims to protect online privacy and promote the Internet as a public utility by barring telecommunications companies ...

Brazil passes trailblazing Internet privacy law

Apr 23, 2014

Brazil's Congress on Tuesday passed comprehensive legislation on Internet privacy in what some have likened to a web-user's bill of rights, after stunning revelations its own president was targeted by US ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Facebook buys fitness app Moves

Facebook has bought the fitness app Moves, which helps users monitor daily physical activity and their calorie counts on a smartphone.

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live i ...