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For those of you who haven’t been paying a whole lot of attention to Google’s privacy changes, here’s a basic rundown of the story so far:
What Google’s Doing:
The short answer is that Google is replacing the individual privacy policies for their 60+ services with one policy that covers all things Google. The policy is meant to be a simple, unified, easy-to-understand statement about what sort of data Google collects and what it does with it. The goal of the policy, according to a post on Google’s blog today, is to make it easier for you to see the kind of content you want to see on one Google service – say, YouTube – based on your activity on Google’s other services – say, search or Google+. That, however, means that under the new policy Google will be combining the data it has gathered from users’ various accounts. Having the information you put into any of Google’s service accessible to all of Google’s services makes it easier for Google to customize your experience.
It’s that last bit – the part about combining users’ data – that has caused the uproar, though. Privacy advocates are concerned that the new policy presents a threat to consumer privacy. They fear that Google will gain too much access to users’ personal information if they are allowed to aggregate what they already know about users into one place. Moreover, they are concerned that by the fact that users cannot opt out of the unification. The only way to prevent seeing Gmail ads based on your YouTube search history, for example, is to sign out of your Google account completely when you’re on YouTube.
What You Can Do About It: