Google’s New Privacy Policy – What’s Wrong With It?

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Google’s New Privacy Policy – What’s Wrong With It?

Google announced this week that they will be discarding 60 of their privacy policies and replacing them with one common privacy policy, covering multiple products and features of Google. While this might seem a good move for users, it’s not quite as innocent a move as it may seem.

Google has stated that they are doing this because they wish to create a “beautiful, simple and intuitive experience” for their users.

In effect, the new policy will make it possible to share information provided by a user on one Google product across all other Google products and features. This includes Gmail, Google Search, YouTube, Google Plus and others.

A major stumbling block of this new policy is the fact that users will not have the option to disagree with the policy if they wish to continue using any of these Google services.

Consumer Objections

Users have voiced their discontent via comments and votes on the YouTube video introducing the new, unified privacy policy. The major bone of contention for users seems to be that information from any one Google service will now be accessible to a host of other services.

Regular consumers are not blind to the fact that Google makes its money from advertising. They also accept that in order to advertise on all of its services, Google does need to be able to pull information from one service and use it elsewhere. What they dislike is the idea that Google is mixing the concept of privacy in a closed system such as GMail with that on an open network such as Google+ or YouTube.

Official Investigations Triggered

Not surprisingly, the announcement has not gone down too well with certain groups. Gary Davis, the Data Protection Commissioner in Dublin, where Google’s European headquarters are based, has said that their office would be “further assessing the implications of the changes now that they are launched to users”. He also said that “Google has a responsibility to ensure that any such changes are made abundantly clear to users”.

Greg Jones from the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office said, “Failure to inform users about changes may not only lead to a loss of trust in the company, but could also mean that they are failing to comply” with U.K. law.

Exceptions to this new policy will be Google Books, Google Chrome and Google Wallet. These sites will continue to retain their own privacy policy.This exception is due to legal reasons.

The new policy will come into effect from the 1st of March 2012.