How to Manage Google's New Privacy Policy Changes

A big change to Google's privacy policy has now taken affect, meaning it's now up to YOU to decide how much information you want collected by the search giant. Last Thursday, March 1, 2012, Google's much-discussed new privacy policy went into effect.

To say that the change has stirred concern on the Web would be an understatement. Public officials and Web watchdogs in the United States and elsewhere have expressed fears that it will mean less privacy for users of the Web giant's multitude of products, from search to Gmail to YouTube to Google Maps to smart phones powered by the Android operating system.

Google points out that the products won't be collecting any more data about users than they were before. And, in fairness, the company has gone out of its way to prominently announce the product across all of its platforms for weeks.

The major change is that, instead of profiling users separately on each of its sites and products, Google will now pull all of that information together into one single profile, similar to what's found on Google's dashboard page.

The result encapsulates perhaps the most basic conundrum of the modern Web. More information means better service (and potentially, more targeted advertisements). But that service (in this case more accurate search results, more interesting ads and new features that work across multiple sites) requires you to give up some of your privacy in return.

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz has called it "a somewhat brutal choice."

Google, not surprisingly, takes a different tack: The payoff for the company collecting your data is cool new services. For example, they could push cooking videos to you on YouTube if you'd been looking for recipes through Google search, privacy director Alma Whitten wrote in an editorial for the Sacramento Bee.

"We just want to use the information you already trust us with to make your experience better," she wrote. "If you don't think information sharing will improve your experience, you don't need to sign in to use services like Search, Maps and YouTube.

"If you are signed in, you can use our many privacy tools to do things like edit or turn off your search history, control the way Google tailors ads to your interests and browse the Web 'incognito' using Chrome." Last Wednesday was the last day for people to tweak those Google settings before the new policy begins, although they can change them afterward as well.

Here are a few tips on how to keep your data a little more private on some of Google's most popular features.

1. Don't sign in - This is the easiest and most effective tip. Many of Google's services -- most notably search, YouTube and Maps -- don't require you to sign in to use them. If you're not logged in, via Gmail or Google+, for example, Google doesn't know who you are and can't add data to your profile. But to take a little more direct action ...

2. Removing your Google search history - Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation has compiled this step-by-step guide to deleting and disabling your Web History, which includes the searches you've done and sites you've visited.

It's pretty quick and easy:
-- Sign in to your Google account
-- Go to www.google.com/history
-- Click "Remove all Web History"
-- Click "OK"

As the EFF notes, deleting your history will not prevent Google from using the information internally. But it will limit the amount of time that it's fully accessible. After 18 months, the data will become anonymous again and won't be used as part of your profile. The EFF also compiled these six tips to protect your search privacy.

3. Clearing your YouTube history - Similarly, users may want to remove their history on YouTube. That's also pretty quick and easy.
-- Sign in on Google's main page
-- Click on "YouTube" in the toolbar at the top of the page
-- On the right of the page, click your user name and select "Video Manager"
-- Click "History" on the left of the page and then "Clear Viewing History"
-- Refresh the page and then click "Pause Viewing History"
-- You can clear your searches on YouTube by going back and choosing "Clear Search History" and doing the same steps.

4. Clearing your browsing history on Google Chrome-- Click on the "wrench" icon at the far right of your toolbar
-- Select "Tools"
-- Select "Clear browsing data"
-- In the dialogue box that appears, click the "clear browsing data" box (there are other options you may want to use as well)
-- Select "Beginning of Time" to clear your entire browsing history
-- Click "clear browsing history"

5. Gmail Chat - When you start a chat with someone, you can make the conversation "off the record." Off-the-record chats will not be stored in your chat history or the history of the person with whom you're talking. All chats with that person will remain off the record until you change the status. To go off the record:
-- Click the "Actions" link at the top right of the chat window
-- Scroll down to "Go off the record." Both you and your chat partner will see that the chat has been taken off the record.

6. What are Google's other products? Obviously, anything with "Google" in its name counts. But the Web giant owns other products that might not be so obvious to some folks.
-- Gmail. Yes, the "G" is for Google.
-- YouTube. Google bought the Web's leading video site in 2006
-- Picasa. The online photo sharing site became Google's in 2004
-- Blogger. The blog publishing tool has been Google's since 2003.
-- FeedBurner. A management tool for bloggers and managing RSS feeds. Google bought it in 2007.
-- Orkut. Google's original social-networking site isn't big in the U.S. But it's one of the most popular sites in India and Brazil.
-- Android. Yes, you probably know this. But just for the record, Google owns the most popular smartphone operating system.

So what do the analysts think? Is Google's new privacy policy evil? The search giant has begun sharing your personal data across almost all of its services — a violation, critics say, of Google's "don't be evil" ethos. Under Google's controversial new privacy policy, YouTube, Gmail, and nearly 60 other Google services will share your personal data.

Google is changing its privacy policies to allow the sharing of a user's data across 60 of its web services, including Gmail, YouTube, and personalized search (but not Google Wallet, Google Books, or the Chrome browser). For example, says Brent Rose at Gizmodo, "if you searched for 'Furbies' on Google's homepage (for some freaky reason) and then later went to YouTube, you might see Furbies videos pop up. That's new. Previously, data was compartmentalized between applications." Privacy advocates and many tech commentators aren't happy, especially because there's no way to opt out of the cross-Google data sharing. Does this change violate Google's "don't be evil" philosophy?

Yes. Google is turning evil: Google claims that this change better serves its users, but really, but I think it's really all about selling more targeted ads, says Mat Honan at Gizmodo. Come March 1, "things you could do in relative anonymity today will be explicitly associated with your name, your face, your phone number," and everything else you put in Google's hands. I'm "calling this evil" because Google is violating the core promise of respecting its users — a promise that Google used to "get us all under its feel-good tent."

Maybe, but c'mon, people are overreacting: This "Internet freakout" mostly shows that "no one actually reads privacy policies," says Kashmir Hill at Forbes. We have all given Google permission to share our information among Google services since 2005. The only change is that now it will actually use all that stuff it knows about you to, say, recommend YouTube videos. "When Google starts bundling everything it knows about its users and selling that to insurance companies, background check companies, and the Department of Homeland Security, that's when I'll trot out the 'evil label.'" For now, "kudos to them for being so explicit" about their privacy tweaks.

No, the real issue is Google's ambitions, of course Google isn't evil, says Adam Pash at Lifehacker. "But it's never been harder to take their famous 'Don't be evil' motto seriously." Google started out wanting to give us the web, then get out of the way. Now it "wants to grab every piece of the internet you use," trying for "world domination" like Facebook or, more damningly, 1990s-era AOL. That's not the Google we came to love, and it's "a fantastic bummer" for anyone who likes a free, innovative web.

In the meantime, Google is accused of secret tracking.

Google has been “bypassing privacy settings” to track the Web habits of people using Apple’s Safari browser, said Jennifer Valentino-DeVries in The Wall Street Journal. The Internet giant placed small tracking files, called cookies, on phones and computers of users who didn’t want to be tracked. Google says it has halted the practice, but Microsoft charged that Google also circumvented privacy controls on the Internet Explorer browser. Three congressmen have asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Google is violating its recent privacy settlement.

And in Europe, the new Google policy breaks the law.

Data-protection agencies ini Europe have concluded that Google's new privacy policy is in breach of European law. France's data-protection watchdog, the CNIL, has also cast doubt on the legality of the policy and informed Google that it would lead a Europe-wide investigation. Google said in January that it was simplifying its privacy policy, consolidating 60 guidelines into a single one that will apply to all its services. - Reuters

- As seen in The Week
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1 comments:
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Anonymous said...
7:19 AM  

Incredible, my email showed in Google search results!

http://annoyances-resolved.blogspot.com/2012/03/google-new-privacy-one-click-cost-per.html

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