Connected: Don't panic about Google's privacy policy

March 4, 2012 3:17 pm

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The day after Leap day (Feb. 29), Google changed its privacy policy.

It wasn't as if it caught people by surprise. Almost anybody using Google products has been prodded to death by the popup dialog boxes that warned of the impending change and prompting them to read the new policy.

For a short bit, the company even used the phrase, "Not the usual yada yada," as they did when they introduced their first privacy policy over a decade ago.

I read the privacy policy and thought it looked rather standard for such companies to use. The company wasn't making any earth-shattering changes. It seemed that the lawyers were consolidating the many privacy policies to make them easier to manage.

So I didn't pay much attention - until I received a call from a local TV station asking me to comment on the changes because the executive producer who called was "seeing panicky emails encouraging folks to no longer use Google" and several of its products.

Thinking I might have missed something, I went back through the documents, which by now included lots of additional information, including explanatory videos. And, of course, the trade and consumer press were warning of the impending threat (which they always do when things change, because they get readers to take notice). The high panic level indicated to me that I might have missed something.

But I didn't see anything of major note.

That's where the significant issue is - that the change is so small, that it seems inconsequential. To most of us, it will be inconsequential. But others will be caught in, "Don't be evil," which is one of Google's trademark beliefs.

The major change is that the company is treating you as a single user, whether you use Gmail, Google search engine or other Google products. So when they collect data about you - and make no bones about it, they collect plenty of data about you - they'll know more about you as a person, which makes their targeting efforts better.

Follow David Radin on Twitter @dradin or learn more at www.megabyteminute.com.
First Published 2012-03-03 23:04:39

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