Google’s New Privacy Policy

When I first saw the announcements of the new Google privacy policy, my initial reaction was, “Hmmm, interesting,” and that was as far as it went. Then people starting jumping up and down, hyperventilating, so I watched the show for a while to try to figure out what I was missing about why this was so exciting. Wow, there is a LOT of buzz. I saw one piece from the Washington Post in which they talked about a survey they did and all the thousands of people who are abandoning their accounts because of the new policy. I still didn’t get it, and mentioned this in various places in social media. One person on Twitter got back to me describing what they were going through to delete their account and how close they are to completing the process. I’ve started to get a number of casual and less than casual inquiries from people about what I think of all this. Thus, this blogpost, in which I will attempt to make some sort of sense out of the various opinions flying around. For those who don’t have time to enjoy the entire post, the take-home is that I don’t personally quite understand why folks are making such a fuss. And actually, I don’t have to do much explaining because so many other folk already have. Start with this.

Google’s Privacy Policy is Freaking Me Out

That little video is my current favorite on the topic. It closely echoes the stance explained here by Gina Trapani.

Gina Trapani. Google Going Evil is the Godwin’s Law of Tech Commentary:

If you want to watch other non-Google views on the topic, you might want to check out the online show This Week in Google. They have two episodes on the topic: BE AFRAID… or not and The Google Father.

Want to see the real thing? Here are links from Google themselves — Google policies in general, their privacy FAQ, the “old” privacy policy (link good for the rest of this month, then the content changes), and the new privacy policy (link good for the rest of this month). Some folk are asking if this will apply to Youtube also. Briefly, yes, but if you want to see Youtube’s current policy as well, here it is. Here’s the Youtube Privacy Notice, which describes situations unique to Youtube, and their Privacy Guidelines, in case you need to correct or resolve a problem. Here is Google’s own video explaining the new Privacy Policy.

Google Privacy Policy Update:

One person who talked to me recently was concerned that someone would hack their departmental account and post porn, which is a bit aside from the topic here, but I’ll give a few quick links anyway. I won’t say it can’t happen, because it has happened, and to such notables as Sesame Street. My recommendation was to assign someone to check your account regularly, in addition to the usual good advice of being careful with your password, not logging in on public machines, locking your computer when you leave it, and not leaving the computer logged in when you don’t need it to be and you aren’t there. You may have noticed that in the Sesame Street example, it wasn’t Sesame Street that noticed and corrected the problem, but Youtube themselves. On a related note, the flip side of the issue is when someone has taken your videos or videos of you to use elsewhere in Youtube. here is the link to report a problem if someone posted video of you without your permission.

Google has also provided many tools and resources to help people understand online privacy and safety concerns in general, in addition to the specific policies under discussion now. Their Tools page is a one-stop shop collecting information on a whole range of topics, from “what does Google know about me?” to “don’t show my kid in Street View!” to “how do I keep Google from archiving my private chats?” Did you know that Google automatically logs and saves copies of all of your chats in your email account? Some of my friends didn’t. Useful to know. Now, I want to know what Facebook does with the same info, which is not as easy to find out as Google has made it. Hmmmmm.

Google: Privacy: Tools:

Again, this next bit veers away from pure privacy to online safety, but the two are so intertwined it is likely a good thing to mention both together. More resources from Google to help folk with these issues.

Google: Good To Know:

Google Family Safety Center:

Google’s Youtube channel on Privacy:

Last but not least, Youtube also has a Safety Center.

Youtube: Safety Center:

I love their Quick Tips, which are excellent for most online spaces, if slight modified so they don’t just say “video.”

– Flag [content] that violate our Community Guidelines.
– Keep personal [stuff] private.
– Block users whose comments or messages are bothering you.
– Keep comments clean and respectful.
– Learn more about online safety.”

The Youtube Safety Center includes tips and resources and videos on all these important topics:

Community Guidelines Violations
Cyber Citizenship
Teen Safety
Hateful Content
Sexual Abuse of Minors
Harassment and Cyberbullying
Suicide and Self-Injury
Spam and Phishing
Harmful and Dangerous Conduct

Now, if you are really that worried about the ads and the custom search results, then don’t use Google, use DuckDuckGo. Otherwise, before you start worrying about Google being evil, first look at the info they are giving you to help, and then ask what happens with all your online chats in Facebook, and how to get rid of that if you want. Eh?


One response to “Google’s New Privacy Policy

  1. Pingback: Blog Index, January 27- February 17 | Emerging Technologies Librarian

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