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January 30, 2012

Google's Privacy Policy Update

January 30, 2012

What's in it and what you can do

Everyone who uses Gmail or Google+ or any of Google's products and services recently received an email notification of the upcoming changes to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

At first, I didn't want to bother to take the time to read through it, but after receiving the same email 12 times - I decided to go ahead and take a look.

Privacy Policies

Google provides a wide variety of valuable services for free. They are also the top search engine and all of their services are an integral part of my job and my personal life. Part of what it takes to make their services free is the collection and distribution of user information, and I understand that.

However, that being said, there are things about Google that make me squirm a little. After all, nothing is really "free".

The privacy policy language is a bit vague and hard to fully understand, but here are a few notes I made on the policy that you may find interesting…

Google may collect the following information from you:

  • Any personal information you give in any Google platform - including, name, address, photo, etc.

  • Information about the Google services that you use - including websites that you visit who advertise through Google

  • Mobile device information - including your phone number, type of device, etc.

  • Mobile log information - your telephone log, SMS routing & IP address

  • Your location

  • Information gathered from cookies and pixel tags - on the web and in your email

Google uses the information it collects in the following ways:

  • To "provide, maintain, protect & improve" services and products

  • To present more targeted ads

  • To keep forever for "legitimate business or legal purposes"

  • To share with publishers, advertisers & connected sites (with the exception of "sensitive personal information" which you must opt-in in order to share)

This is not a comprehensive break-down of the privacy policy, just the major points I took away from it. You should read the entire thing for yourself and decide for yourself what you think about the new privacy policy.

If you decide you can't live without Google products and services, but you want to limit the amount of information Google collects from you, here are a few steps you can take to control a portion of your privacy:

Image credit: opensourceway via Flickr.

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