Google Will Change its Privacy Policy

By: From CNN, Posted by Ralph Hipp
By: From CNN, Posted by Ralph Hipp

(FROM CNN) -- Google plans to start combining information the company collects about each user of its various websites and services into a single profile, the company announced on Tuesday.

Previously, Google said it did not create comprehensive profiles across its various properties, including its leading search engine, Android smartphone operating system and YouTube video site.

In a statement, Alma Whitten, a Google privacy director, wrote that the changes "will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience." She added, "Our recently launched personal search feature is a good example of the cool things Google can do when we combine information across products."

That change, called Google Search Plus Your World, brought criticism from rivals Facebook and Twitter, which said that Google+ content now buries their own pages in Google's search engine, and from people who do not care to use Google's new social network.

The new privacy policy, too, has already sparked concerns voiced on social networks, including on Google's own platform.

"Google consolidating data -- gives me some cause for concern," Robert Mason, a professor of information technology at the University of Washignton, wrote publicly on his Google+ profile.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment, and instead referred CNN to Whitten's statement and a brief document posted on the company's website. The latter notes that Google does not sell users' personal info to other companies, and that people who do not like the changes can close their accounts.

Google uses some of the data it collects based on people's usage in order to deliver advertisements customized to individuals.

Whitten boasted in her company blog post that the single, shorter privacy policy should appease government regulators who have called for simplifications across the industry. Facebook made a similar claim last year when it removed much of the legal jargon from its privacy agreement.

Google's new privacy policy will go into effect on March 1. It applies to everyone who is logged into a Google account while searching, checking Gmail, watching YouTube videos or downloading apps to an Android phone.

The company plans to send e-mails to users and post a notification on its home page about the changes, Whitten wrote.


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