Google’s New Policy: The End Is Near Or Business As Usual?

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With the launch of Google’s combined policy initiative, media outlets have felt the need to take a side.  The policy has been met with a significant schism among tech journalists. One side of the argument has thrown out terms like ‘evil’ and ‘unlawful’ while the other side feels that this kind of sensationalism might be jumping the gun.

As a humble new media journalist I fall somewhere in-between.  In the weeks since Google announced this policy I have read convincing articles from both sides of the argument. The new privacy policy plan is here regardless of whether people like it or not.  Is it time to install Opera and start using Bing? Or is Google doing something that has always been privately accepted and now is just being made public? In an effort to understand the truth behind the controversy, here is everything that should be taken into consideration about the new policy.

 

Google’s Updated Privacy Policy Allegedly Violates European law

On Tuesday, French data protection agency CNIL posted a letter on their website sent to Google C.E.O Larry Page regarding the policies violation of European data safety laws. The European Union’s data protection agency asked Google to postpone the policy change until further investigation was done. However Google declined the request and claim to be in accordance with all European data protection laws.

Even though this does not directly involve Google users in the United States, it is still distressing news. Any policy that allegedly breaks international rules and regulations may need some adjusting. Even though Google has released several responses alleviating concerns about the policy update, the European investigation throws the update into further question.

 

Google Is Very Upfront About The Policy Update

From the moment that Google announced this policy they have been mostly transparent about what it will mean for Google users:

“Our new Privacy Policy makes clear that, if you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”

Yes, you read that correctly, Google will be collecting data to give you a more focused web experience; pretty evil right? I don’t know about you but if I had something sinister planned I wouldn’t lay it out word for word to my victims. Google knows that this is the digital age; they practically invented the digital age. This means that they understand that people will pick apart and find out any harmful results of the policy update. Why would Google parade around a malevolent policy without fear of the public discovering their ‘true’ intentions? Possibly the best explanation is there is no evil hidden plan.

 

Google Has a Bad Privacy Track Record Already

In 2009 Google was in violation of sharing information from their cloud-based documents. Unauthorized users were found accessing information from Gmail, Google Docs, and other applications, which lead the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s cloud security protocol. In addition Google is also famously known for their work with the NSA on ‘technical assistance.’ Just in case you forgot, that’s the National Security Agency, the people who practically invented warrantless surveillance.

Google has access to almost every aspect of your life, your email content, what you search for, and what you buy, just to name a few. I want a company with that much of my personal information to have a severe privacy policy. Unfortunately it looks like Google has trouble maintaining their policy regulations.

 

Google Has Been Collecting Your Information Since 2005

The new privacy policy is really more of an updated version of their pre-existing policy laid out in the user agreement. The current policy from Google states:

“We may combine the information you submit under your account with information from other Google services or third parties in order to provide you with a better experience and to improve the quality of our services.”

Essentially Google is just connecting all Google applications under one policy and sharing that singular data instead of sharing data from multiple policies. The concept of collecting and selling our information is terrifying, but we have been doing it since 2005 and Skynet hasn’t taken over…. yet.

 

The Verdict

With much of the media foretelling the end of days due to the new policy update, it can be very confusing deciding what you should do now that the new privacy policy is here. The best advice I can give you is to figure out if you are comfortable with a company sharing your data for better advertising and searches. If you decide you are not, then you should probably delete your Facebook, cancel your Twitter account, and throw your phone in a volcano, because it’s all happening there as well.

If you really can’t stand the idea of Google collecting your data, then stop using all Google products or sign out of email every time you watch a YouTube video. It may seem overly complicated, but that’s the price of convenience. 

 

Source(s): Forbes, Gizmodo, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times

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