Under Google’s Umbrella: What Do You Think About the New Privacy Policy?

Umbrella Privacy PolicyIf you are familiar with tech news, you’ve probably heard about Google’s new privacy policy, expected to take effect on March 1.

With all the information about the news, it can be difficult to make up your mind about where you stand on the new Privacy Policy. This blog will outline the basics of the controversy.

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.

At first glance the new privacy policy may seem simple, that Google is simply streamlining its privacy policy to cover all of its products under one umbrella.

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.

Does the New Privacy Policy Violate the 2011 FTC Settlement?

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

EPIC, is predictably up-in-arms over the changes in Google’s new privacy policy. They’ve requested an injunction on the privacy policy, saying that the change reduces users’ control over their own data and allows Google to give personal information to advertisers.

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

Google has countered that EPIC has misunderstood the new privacy policy, but will have to wait for the FTC’s response to EPIC on Feb. 17 to know more. EPIC is required to respond by Feb. 21./p>

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.

Whew. With all that said, what do YOU think about the revised Privacy Policy?