Jan 252012
 
 January 25, 2012  Business, Featured News, Online

A change by any other name is still a change.

Google announced some upcoming changes in its official blog.   While the consolidation of privacy policies is a Good Thing, other changes are already receiving a negative reaction. The main change is that they will be integrating more user information across services if you are logged in to a Google account:

The main change is for users with Google Accounts. Our new Privacy Policy makes clear that, if you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.

While some users may actually welcome that, others are already objecting to the collection and integration of more data on them.  Google hastens to reassure users:

 We don’t sell your personal information, nor do we share it externally without your permission except in very limited circumstances like a valid court order. We try hard to be transparent about the information we collect, and to give you meaningful choices about how it is used—for example our Ads Preferences Managerenables you to edit the interest categories we advertise against or turn off certain Google ads altogether. And we continue to design privacy controls, like Google+’s circles, into our products from the ground up.

 

But of course, we’ve seen an uptick in law enforcement attempting to get users’ information, so this is not particularly reassuring.

Think of it this way: how much personal info about you will Google amass and hand over to law enforcement? “Like a valid court order” is not particularly reassuring to this blogger, as magistrates can issue orders and privacy advocates want a higher standard such as a warrant based on probable cause. And what will Google do if non-U.S. entities demand production of information?

There’s a lot more to discuss about this issue and I expect to see a lot of detailed analyses and discussions.

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