Yes, Virginia, Google’s New Privacy Policy Lets You Opt Out Of Sharing Your Data

    January 27, 2012

We asked, now we answer: Google’s new Privacy Policy will not force you into accepting any vampiric habits of Google to vulture information from you for the purpose of advertisements. If you don’t want them to.

Since Google announced the changes to their Privacy Policy, which will go into effect this coming March, people all over the Internets have been taking turns at their best Chicken Little impressions by decrying the death of privacy and end of control over how their personal information gets used. Some people even threatened to axe their Google accounts altogether. Really!

Turns out, Google’s not putting their users in an info-farming full-nelson after all. In fact, it’s going to continue to be just as easy to opt out of customized ads under the new Privacy Policy as it is under the current policy.

Earlier today, a spokesperson from Google Corporate Communications, Eitan Bencuya, confirmed with WebProNews that, yes, “the Ads Preferences Manager will still exist after March 1. Users do not need to opt-out again.”

Did you see what Mr. Bencuya did there? Not only will the option to opt out of Google’s Display Network ads (that’s their name for software that generates ads based on your interests and demographics – information they cull from your browsing habits) but you only have to do it once. You won’t be grandfathered in under the new policy and then have to repeat the opt out again. Just do it once, and that’s it.

So, then, how do you do this? Well, go to the Ad Preferences Manager while signed into your Google account. If Google is collecting information from your browsing habits, you’ll see a page that looks like this:

If you don’t see this page, you may be met with a different page that reads:

No interest or demographic categories are associated with your ads preferences so far. You can add or edit interests and demographics at any time.

If you see that “No interest” message, guess what: you’ve likely already opted out of Google’s customized ads, so they’re not tracking and using your info. High five!

Anyways, back to those of you still desiring to opt out. While you’re on the page like the screenshot above, you can take a look at what Google’s profile on you looks like. If you like, you can click on the “remove or edit” link in the center of the page to change up your categories as you please. However, if you want to completely opt out of Google tracking your info in order to create ads, look to the left-hand menu and click on the obvious words, “Opt out.” You should arrive on this page:

I’m sure you can figure out what to do from here.

Keep in mind, this isn’t a nuclear option you’re choosing. If for some reason you really want to go back and opt in to Google’s personal ads-from-your-info policy again, you can return to this page to flip it on.

Also, note the last paragraph on that page and consider the suggestions about minimizing your online data trail even more if you want to browse as privately as possible (whatever that even means in this day and age). Do what you will with the further options, but that’s it.

So what did we learn today class? Google is not the information vulture you thought it was. True, they may still be tracking us in ways we won’t be (or don’t want to be) aware of, but as far as including your information into the algorithms that produce ads based on your interests, this is how you control how much (or little) you give them.

Honestly, though, this really isn’t any different from what they were already doing.

Now see? Google’s not so bad after all, is it? Now go back to your Google account and kiss and make up.