Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Google Changes Privacy Policy and Terms of Service -- Updated Feb 13, 2012

Google announced last week (read Jan 24 blog) that it's getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across its product lines and replacing them with one that’s shorter and "easier to read." This new integrated policy covers multiple products and features, and "is intended to create one simple and intuitive experience across Google." Here's how Google explains it:
The main change is for users with Google Accounts. 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.
We urge you to read the new Google Privacy Policy and new Google Terms of Service; both are effective March 1, 2012. Then, we strongly suggest you log-in to your Google Account (defined) and go to the Dashboard to see a list of every Google product you have an account with, as well as the information each one has stored about you. Actually, Google suggests you check your Dashboard once a year (read article), so now's a good time to get in the habit of  doing just that. To see how it works, watch this Google Dashboard video.
For owners of Android devices, which include about half of the smartphone market, Google’s privacy policy shift will enable the company to track what many users do on the phone and combine that data with what the company knows about them from Google’s Web sites. (Read The Washington Post.) 
Google is planning to “replace past names associated with your Google Account so that you are represented consistently across all our services.” If you have deliberately kept different names on your various accounts, you'll definitely want to reconsider your objectives under Google's new Privacy Policy. It is unclear whether or how Google will accommodate users  who want to separate their personal and professional digital lives; give Google feedback here.

Here's a few tools (more on our new Electronic Privacy chart):
So far, FTC has "declined comment on any interaction between Google and regulators on its new privacy changes." Representatives Edward Markey (D-MA), and Joe Barton (R-TX), however, have requested an FTC investigation whether "Google's proposed changes violate" the recent settlement (see Decision and Order) with the agency. Representatives Markey and Barton also joined six other U.S. lawmakers expressing concern that a planned consolidation of user information not "make protecting consumer privacy more complicated" (read more on HuffPo). In an official letter to Google CEO Larry Page signed by Reps. Cliff Stearns (R-FL)Henry Waxman (D- CA)Joe Barton (R-TX)Edward Markey (D-MA)Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Dianne DeGette (D-CO), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Jackie Speier (D-CA), the lawmakers requested more information from Google no later than February 16, 2012. Read more about the Congressional inquiry on Yahoo. See/download Google's January 30, 2012, response.

Read about related February 8, 2012, lawsuit here.

What do you think about the Google Privacy Policy changes? Please post comments below, and before Feb 7, take our poll on the top left side of this page.

You might like:
The End of Privacy via Mother Jones vs. Indiana Daily Student Commentary
Tweaking Its Identity Stance, Google+ Now Allows Nicknames via Wired  vs. (G+ here)
Google’s Broken Promise: The End of "Don’t Be Evil" via Gizmodo
How to prevent Google from tracking you via CNET
What Google knows about you and how to tweak it via ArsTechnica
What Google knows about you via DetroitFreePress
Privacy-centric alternatives to Google, Gmail and Facebook via CNET
Discussion Draft of Mobile Device Privacy Act or Jan 30, 2012, article via The Hill

Last Updated February 25, 2012


  1. Replies
    1. Changes go into effect March 1. Users cannot opt out of the new policies. Please read our upcoming post about the choices we think you have.

    2. Check out Electronic Privacy Tips chart at www.bigfamilynews.com. Other suggestions or comments?

  2. Not totally consolidated. About 12 products, like Wallet or Chrome, will still have separate privacy policies.

    1. Thanks for clarification. I read Google Books also excluded. Do you have complete list to post?

    2. To Email inquiry, Google Music and related services are covered by Google's new Terms and Privacy Policy.

  3. Online Poll from Jan 31, 2012, through Feb 7, 2012, about Google Privacy Policy changes closed without any votes/responses.

  4. New online poll at top of page Feb 20 through Feb 27, 2012, about Google Privacy changes. Tell us what you think!

    1. Second poll closed after 7 days with zero votes. Just removed it from this site.


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