A quick look at the policy
- Information we collect – indicates that Google collects information directly from the user and what the company gleans through the services used.
- How we use the information we collect – states that the information collected is used for, among other things: to provide, maintain, protect and improve Google’s service; to develop new ones; to protect the company and its users; and to provide users with more tailored content.
- Transparency and choice – affirms that users have several options that can be exercised.
- Information you share – recognises that the users themselves share content with others, and various options are available to share and remove content.
- Information we share – highlights the circumstances under which Google will share users’ personal information.
- Information security – outlines the measures that have been implemented to protect users for unauthorised access.
- Application – states that subject to certain exceptions, the policy applies to all services offered by Google and its affiliates.
Should you still be concerned?
It should also be noted that in the European Union, it is widely believed that Google’s new policy will violate its data protection rules – the European Directive on Data Protection. However, it appears that the company is still sset to implement it on 1 March (Source: TheBlaze).
Finally, in recent weeks, both Apple and Microsoft have claimed that Google has been bypassing Safari and Internet Explorer privacy settings, respectively, to accept Google’s cookies and ultimately to collect data unbeknownst to users (Source: DailyTech). Although Google has refuted some of the allegations, its actions has still caused many to question to what lengths will the company go to collect user data?
How comfortable are you with “ultra personalisation”?
… if you’re signed in, we treat you as a single user across all of our products, combining information you’ve provided from one service with information from the others. So you have a better and more intuitive experience from the moment you sign in, to the second you log out…
The examples included in the clip suggest that with more cohesive data collection, Google will be able to better understand your needs and context. But do you really want Google thinking for you?
To be fair, many online properties aim to provide customers with personalised services. Amazon pioneered offering recommendations to site visitors based on previous purchases, products searches, etc., and to varying degrees, Google attempts to curate its search results to what it believes you, the user, might want or need. However, how much might be “too much”?
Having said this, Google is widely recognised as a leader in web analytics and predictive modelling. Regardless of the underlying reasons for its new policy, being able to consolidate user information across all of its offerings would provide the company with more coherent data to analyse, which increases the value it can offer advertisers and other customers, and ultimately, its bottomline. However, we, as individual users, ought to consider the extent to which we are confortable with the wealth of information Google will now be able to attribute to us, and its likely impact on our privacy.
Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net