Google’s privacy policy raises hackles



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NEW DELHI: Have you
ever used Google to
search for a restaurant
while you were logged
in its network using
your Google id? Or
shared information
about your trip to Goa
with your friends on
Google +? Or watched
belly dance on YouTube?
Or looked for Sunny
Leone pictures on
Google images? If yes,
Google knows about it.
And according to its
new privacy policy it is
going to put this
information to some
use.
The web giant says the
new privacy policy will
allow it to offer better
services, including more
relevant search results.
But web experts have
raised concerns over
potential misuse of
data and breach of
privacy. According to
Google's new privacy
policy that will come
into effect from March
1, the company is
"getting rid of over 60
different privacy policies
across Google services
and replacing them with
one that's shorter,
easier to read" and
something that will
enable it to "create
intuitive experience
across Google" . Unlike in
the past when Google
had allowed users to
choose personalized
services, this time
there is no option to opt
out.
For an end-user this
means that whatever
information he shares
through Google
searches, Gmail, Google
+, Picassa etc will be
used to customize
Google services for him.
That the move is
significant can be
gauged from the fact
that Google has
provided a link to the
new policy directly
under its search engine
on main page,
something that the
company rarely does.
Google users will also be
notified about the policy
change through an
email. "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," said Alma
Whitten, Google's
director of privacy, in a
post on the company's
official blog.
Whitten gave some
example of how this
information will be used.
"We can make search
better - figuring out
what you really mean
when you type in Apple,
Jaguar or Pink. We can
provide more relevant
ads too," she wrote.
"We can provide
reminders that you're
going to be late for a
meeting based on your
location , your calendar
and an understanding of
what the traffic is like
that day. Or ensure that
our spelling
suggestions, even for
your friends' names, are
accurate because
you've typed them
before."
The privacy policy from
Google is at the heart of
its new business
strategy as it works to
keep the search engine
relevant and its
services fresh in the
face of social
networking websites
like Twitter and
Facebook. It is also
prompted by the
proliferation of devices
like smartphones and
tablets. However,
privacy experts are not
amused. Sunil Abraham,
director of Centre for
Internet and Society,
said the new changes
are not good for a
consumer's privacy.
"I understand that
Google collects the data
so that it can build a
360 degree profile of a
user and based on the
information serve
relevant
advertisements . But
there is no reason for
them to store this data
for long. Storing data
makes it prone to
misuse by authorities
as well as
corporations," said
Abraham. Another,
problem, he said is that
different services are
used for different
purposes. "I don't want
my bakery shop owner
to know what kind of
medicines Ibuy from
the nearby medical
store," said Abraham.
Are you being watched?
What |
For an end-user the
new policy means that
whatever information
he shares through
Google searches, Gmail,
Google+, Picassa, etc
will be used to
customize Google
services for him
Why |
The privacy policy is at
the heart of Google's
business strategy as it
tries to keep the search
engine relevant in the
face of social
networking websites
like Twitter and
Facebook
Concerns |
It's instrusive as online
activity is tracked;
storing data makes it
prone to misuse by
authorities as well as
corporations

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