Google Privacy Policy Under Fire Again

When Google changed it’s privacy policy back on March 1, 2012, I am sure that the company would have never guessed that they would still be under fire for the move more than six months later. So, what actually changed with Google’s privacy policy earlier this year? In a nutshell:

– YouTube data and data from other Google products/services used to be kept strictly separate. Data collected on YouTube could be used to improve your YouTube experience, but this same data could not be used to improve your Google search.
– Search History was kept separate for different Google products/services. Search history often contains information that can be revealing, such as the users locations, interests, religion, and health concerns. So, many saw this as an important facet of privacy.

The new Google privacy policy removed all of the siloing of data that was previously kept separate between Google search, YouTube, Google+, and other Google products.

Google quickly lumped the summary of this change into the phrase, “to treat you as a single user”. Much of the now opposition comes from this explanation which seems to leave a lot to be desired.

When the changes to Google’s privacy policy happened, the company stated:

First, we’ve rewritten the main Google Privacy Policy from top to bottom to be simpler and more readable. The new policy replaces more than 60 existing product-specific privacy documents. This all should make it easier for you to learn about what data we collect and how we use it.
Second, the new policy reflects our efforts to create one beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google. It makes clear that, if you have a Google Account and are signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we can treat you as a single user across all our products.

Since March 2012, the Google privacy policy changes have been taken to task by Congress and more recently the European Union. This week many European data protection agencies, including France’s, found Google’s privacy changes unacceptable. Among the reasons cited by the data protection agencies included that Google:

– Does not provide enough information to users on it’s processing of personal data
– Does not specify retention periods for how long the company will keep user data
– Does not allow users to control the combination of data among its many services

Basically, the European Union (EU) has asked that Google provide a clearer and more comprehensive list of information about data collection and the purpose of that data collection. The group also suggested that Google provide better user controls.

Larry Page, Google’s Chief Executive, responded to the EU’s accusations by saying that Google’s new privacy policy is essential for the company to produce new products that are even more useful to Google users. Google says that the new privacy policy will increase services to users like correcting the spelling of a contacts name in a Google search, based upon the information gleaned from that users’ Gmail account. Other uses were also mentioned.

For more updates on the constantly changing world of Google and the Internet, take a look at the archives!.

Image: Stuart Miles /

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Eric Wagner

Eric is a CEO with a background in marketing and search engine optimization specialist (SEO). In his free time, Eric enjoys exercise, gardening, technology, a good book, and spending time with family and friends.

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