New Google privacy rules March 1

Google’s privacy rules change March 1, and you know what that means. Starting Thursday, you won’t be able to search for Captain & Tennille lyrics without being spammed relentlessly about where to buy a muskrat fur coat.

The new privacy policy changes will help Google services work together to sell you stuff.

The new privacy policy changes will help Google services work together to sell you stuff. (Image by Google)

Or maybe not.

According to respected computer nerds, the new rules don’t change what information Google is harvesting. What’s changing is that Google’s multiple services (search, Gmail, YouTube, et al) now use the same privacy policy, and all the information gleaned from your web travels is now compiled into one profile usable by all Google services.

Thus, if you send your buddy Bob a Gmail about how much you enjoyed test driving a new Mazda, you may start seeing more car ads when you log onto YouTube. In this example, before the changes you’d have only seen personalized new cars ads when using Gmail.

Personally, I am not freaked out by the amount of information Google and everyone else is compiling. Netflix knows what I like to watch on TV and suggests other shows I might like. I’ve found that useful. Amazon knows I like books about how not to get fired, and offers similar titles whenever I log on. Handy!

Fortunately for the paranoid, Google offers ways to prevent the gleaning of much information. Users can log onto the Google Dashboard to tweak privacy and other settings.

Some useful things to do are:

  • Find out what information about you Google is tracking. Google knows the date I activated my Android phone, for example.
  • Set up an alert anytime someone uses your name or Gmail address.

and, here’s the biggie …

  • Delete all browsing history and opt out of Google’s “Web History” altogether.

Unfortunately, your browser may continue tracking your web activity. Those who want more privacy should check out Google Chrome’s “Incognito Mode.”

Looking for even MORE privacy?

I’d suggest never logging onto the Internet again. But remember, even Thoreau only enjoyed his “Life in the Woods” for about two years before moving back to a big city.

Maybe privacy wasn’t what he, or anyone else, is really looking for.

** Google privacy policy changes “Survival Guide” on ZDNET


15 comments Add your comment

Lori

February 29th, 2012
4:48 pm

I don’t get why people get so worked up about this stuff. I’m like you, I find it useful for Amazon, Netflix and other sites to recommend things based on what I like. So if Google wants to track that I’ve been searching for cake recipes and suggest some good ones for me, then yoohoo!!!

RoknrolZombie

February 29th, 2012
5:17 pm

The problem is that we don’t know what “other” information Google (and the rest, to be honest) are selling/sharing or with who. Google has my phone number and, because some of my email is hosted with them, they literally have access to everything that has been discussed in PRIVATE emails. Let’s say that my mother wasn’t online (at all) but I sent her phone number to my sister or something. Technically speaking, Google has the right to take her phone number and sell it to the highest bidder so that now, even though she has no online presence, her privacy is in jeopardy.

Also consider that many security breaches are caused by “phishing”. The more of my information that exists, the more likely it is that someone can invent a plausible story – (it probably wouldn’t actually happen to me since this is the field I work in, but you never know). Like the Nigerian scams that send out hundreds of thousands of emails to Martha Pinski, all it takes is for one email to find one person with that name who doesn’t realize that it’s a scam. The less of my information that’s available “in the wild”, the better, and that companies like Google and Facebook have no compunction about selling my privacy pisses me off.

Sorry for the ramble :p

George Mathis

February 29th, 2012
5:40 pm

I get where you are coming from RoknrolZombie, but many online businesses share your info and the government gives a lot of it away. The USPS sells your info when you fill out a change of address form. If you incorporate a business, your info is available to everyone. I can find out how much anyone paid for their house just by entering an address in the county tax commissioner’s website. Not much is really private in this world.

[...] nueva política de privacidad propone el cambio de más de 60 políticas anteriores en una sola con el objetivo de [...]

Dirk

March 1st, 2012
9:07 am

I get the argument about it being useful. The only problem is that it’s not useful. I don’t want to see the same ads over and over. I go to the Internet to see NEW things, not what I already have experience with. The way they are marrying the data mining to advertising ensures I see the same old thing day after day!

Big Brother

March 1st, 2012
11:33 am

I wonder why, inorder to update google +, I have to agree to let them record audio and video from my phone at any time they deem necesary. Why does google want to take random snapshots from my phone? No thank you. Uninstalled.

Hamil2000lb

March 1st, 2012
11:41 am

If you don’t like Google’s privacy policy, then don’t use Google. Google is a business and happens to have a very good (and popular product).

harold

March 1st, 2012
1:51 pm

GOOGLE AND WORD PRESS ARE WALKING ” A SLIPPERY SLOPE” REGARDING THE POSTING OF HALF TRUTHS THAT PEOPLE BLOG. A JUDGE HAS STATED THAT THIS COULD BE CONSTRUED AS “MALICIOUS INTENT” AS THIS FREEDOM TO POST ANYTHING OR ANY BLOG CONTINUES.

WE AMERICANS BELIEVE IN FREE SPEECH BUT “NOT” THE FREEDOM OF HALF TRUTH’S. THE SUPREME COURT WILL VERY LIKELY AGREE SOON. GOOGLE AND WORD PRESS NEED TO ADHERE TO “THE FULL” TRUTH.

Player Hater

March 1st, 2012
2:26 pm

I like that Google is at least disclosing this info to us in the first place. From what I’ve heard, Yahoo and Bing have been doing this.

Just an Old Man

March 1st, 2012
2:29 pm

I survived for 40 years before AOL & Prodigy saturated my mailbox with 40 hr/month service at 28.8 baud for $10.month. Modern service is close to $50/month – with 10 Mbps service needed just to load all the ads and usage tracking going on behind the scenes. Not to mention 24/7/3675 hacking at the backdoor. You mock never logging on the internet again. Believe me — I can certainly survive without Google!!

Just an Old Man

March 1st, 2012
2:45 pm

George – There is a HUGE difference between public record land sales and companies tracking your every movement online. Did you see the recent story about Target data-mining purchases and concluding that a teenager was pregnant (and sending coupons) even before her parents knew? And let’s be honest – does Google really need to know what kind of ’70’s music I like listening to?

Lumpy

March 1st, 2012
2:45 pm

Don’t worry about Google if you have a Facebook account. You have already given you privacy away, and your friends and family too.

Euny

March 1st, 2012
3:36 pm

If you haven’t already, please read M.T. Anderson’s YA novel entitled “Feed”– it provides a very scary scenario of what happens when companies use your preference data to advertise to you–and what might happen when you don’t fit their preconceived consumer types. It’s a great book.

effie udall

March 3rd, 2012
3:18 pm

What if a Google employee in charge of marketing was to follow you around town in a little car, as you ran errands in your own car, went shopping, dropped off the dry cleaning, etc. Wherever you went, the guy in the little car was following you and making notes on where you went, what you bought, who you contacted.

No harm in that, you say? Maybe not, but it’s dam’d annoying!

Sholeen

March 9th, 2012
5:52 pm

Just delete anything to do with Google, I set the browser settings to remove cookies, cache and history once the browser is closed. Can’t send a message otherwise. =o/