Streamlining or Steamrolling Users’ Privacy?
Right now, Google has more than 60 privacy policies for its websites. The new umbrella policy covers most of Google’s products, including YouTube, Calendar, and Gmail, as well as Android software.
However, that the new policy enables Google to share data between these services has many critics concerned. Provision like, “We may combine personal information from one service with information, including personal information, from other Google services – for example to make it easier to share things with people you know” has caused consternation for privacy advocates, and a public relations hurdle for Google.
But Hasn’t Google Always Tracked My Information?
Google has been using the same tracking for many years, but separately depending on the product you used. The difference now is that your data is being tracked across all of its sites to create a larger picture of your online behavior.
It follows the trend of the more personalized search results Google has been rolling out over the last couple of years. Under the new policy, your searches, ads—even your misspellings—will be personalized across the board when it comes to Google Products.
As a result of a 2011 settlement with the FTC, Google (as well as Facebook) is required to have ten privacy audits per year. The settlement came after complaints about the way it handled users’ personal information in regards to sharing information with third parties.
Behind the 2011 settlement was a complaint about “unfairness and deceptiveness” made by The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a Washington advocacy group, to the FTC.
An EPIC Backlash
Google, EPIC says, is not in compliance with the FTC settlement, and is demanding that the FTC enforce the settlement, believing that Google is deliberately misrepresenting its privacy policies.
Google’s Damage Control
Meanwhile, the tech giant has begun an ad campaign to ameliorate the backlash. The ads will appear in public places in large cities, and encourage people to protect themselves and their information on the internet.