[LINK] WP: Google's new 'privacy' policy
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Thu Jan 26 08:03:40 EST 2012
[Here's the Washington Post's summary.]
The Washington Post
25 January 2012
Google announced Tuesday that it will integrate users' information
across Gmail, YouTube, search and 57 other Google services.
Google privacy director Alma Whitten, who explained the changes in a
company blog post released in the afternoon, said the company will
"treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean
a simpler, more intuitive Google experience."
What is Google doing?:
In a nutshell, Google is taking information from almost all of your
Google services - including Gmail, Picasa, YouTube and search - and
integrating the data so that they can learn more about you.
(Information from Google Books, Google Wallet and Google Chrome will
not be integrated, partly for legal reasons.)
What kind of information are they collecting and integrating?:
Almost anything that's already in the Google ecosystem: calendar
appointments, location data, search preferences, contacts, personal
habits based on Gmail chatter, device information and search queries,
to name a few.
Can they do that?:
Not under the company's current privacy policies, but Google is
introducing a new, unified policy that you can't opt-out of.
Why is Google doing this?:
Google says it will be able to do a lot more "cool things" when it
combines information across products. There's "so much more that
Google can do to help you" if you share your information with them.
Give me an example.:
From Whitten's blog post: Google will be able to "provide reminders
that you're going to be late for a meeting based on your location,
your calendar and an understanding of what traffic is like that day."
Interesting. Tell me more:
Also from Whitten: Google will be able to "ensure that our spelling
suggestions, even for your friends' names, are accurate because
you've typed them before."
When do the changes take effect?:
Can I opt-out?:
So what do I do if I don't like the policy?:
You can close your account. Google has provided information on how to
take all of your personal information off of Google by closing your
Google Account, which would erase your Gmail, Google+ and other
But I have a lot of data saved on Gmail/Picasa/etc...:
Google says it is committed to "data liberation" and that it will
allow you to take your information elsewhere if you want to. The
company said it would provide directions on how to do this in the
help sections for its various services.
I don't have a Google Account, but use Google search. Am I affected?:
No. The new policy only applies to people who have a Google Account
linked to services such as Gmail, Picasa or YouTube and are signed in.
What if I have account but am not signed in?:
Google can only integrate your information if you are signed in. For
example, if you're signed in to your Gmail account on one tab, and
then decide to look up a clip on YouTube on another tab without
signing out of your e-mail, the data will be integrated. If you sign
out or look up a YouTube clip on a different browser, the data won't
I have an Android phone. How does this affect me?:
Because you have to sign in to your Google account to do anything
except for browse the Web and make phone calls, Google will be able
to track practically anything you do on your phone.
What about if I have an iPhone/Blackberry/Windows 8 phone?:
can collect on different platforms and whether this changes if you
download a Google app or if you access Gmail, for instance, on your
phone's browser or competitor's app. But it does say that if you sign
into Google services, Google will be able to collect information
about your device and usage.
Can you be more specific about the type of information Google will be
able to collect on mobile devices?
data: Your device hardware model, operating system version, unique
device identifiers and mobile network information. Google says it may
associate your device identifiers or phone number with your Google
Account. Details of how you use the service, such as search queries.
Telephony log information like time and date of calls, duration of
calls. IP addresses. Cookies that may "uniquely identify your browser
or your Google Account."
What do privacy advocates have to say about the new policy?:
Privacy advocates are already saying that Google's new policy will be
a surprise to many users.
"There is no way anyone expected this," Jeffrey Chester, executive
director of the privacy advocacy group Center for Digital Democracy,
told The Washington Post's Cecilia Kang.
[CDT is a 'good-guys' business group, not a privacy advocacy organisation.
[Privacy advocates aren't using such wimpish language when discussing
"There is no way a user can comprehend the implication of Google
collecting across platforms for information about your health,
political opinions and financial concerns."
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), the co-chair of the Congressional
Privacy Caucus told The Post that he had issues with Google's
decision to mandate the sharing between services.
"It is imperative that users will be able to decide whether they want
their information shared across the spectrum of Google's offerings."
Roger Clarke http://www.rogerclarke.com/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au http://www.xamax.com.au/
Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Law University of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science Australian National University
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