Google Privacy Policy Changes

Google Privacy Policy Changes: Has Google Gone Too Far?

Do no evil, Google says. But it also has put everyone on notice that as of March 1, it is changing its Privacy Policy… the one the European Union nixed. Here’s what CNN journalist Frida Ghitis writes in an article “Google knows too much about you“:

“I won’t accuse Google of deliberately doing evil. It has done much to improve our lives. It makes no secret of the fact that it seeks to make profits, which it richly deserves. I do believe, however, that it deliberately tries to deceive us when it claims the new privacy policy seeks ‘to provide you with as much transparency and choice as possible.'”

The European Commission has a new privacy proposal known as the “Right to be forgotten.” It would allow Internet users in 27 countries of the European Union to demand Internet companies delete their personal data.

Now you probably have nothing to hide, but do you want all your web searches available for use by others? Here’s what the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains:

“Until now, your Google Web History (your Google searches and sites visited) was cordoned off from Google’s other products. This protection was especially important because search data can reveal particularly sensitive information about you, including facts about your location, interests, age, sexual orientation, religion, health concerns, and more.”

Just like applications like Klout on Facebook can access information on your children and other private friends, this is not what was meant when we were promised freedom from unreasonable searches and guaranteed a right to privacy.

What can you do, other than try to influence Congress? You can pause the Web History function in Google, and EFF gives you simple steps to do that here. It’s easy. It’s not going to stop it entirely, however, according to this note on EFF:

“Disabling Web History in your Google account will not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information and using it for internal purposes. It also does not change the fact that any information gathered and stored by Google could be sought by law enforcement.

“With Web History enabled, Google will keep these records indefinitely; with it disabled, they will be partially anonymized after 18 months, and certain kinds of uses, including sending you customized search results, will be prevented.”

What do you think about this? I’ve disabled my Web History, and I recommend you do too. Read the opinion piece on CNN about the issues, too. I think journalist Ghitis raises some important points.

After all, it’s our Web, and it’s up to us to protect ourselves from misuse and over-commercialization. What’s your opinion?