Something to Think About

"I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Panic Over Google's New Privacy Policy

The amount of hysteria that spreads throughout the internet sometimes never fails to amaze me - especially if it isn't based solely on fact.  As many of you may have heard, Google is changing their privacy policy as of March 1, 2012.

Now don't panic.  Seriously.  There is nothing to be upset about.  All Google is really doing is integrating their various services and applying the same privacy policy to all of them. See, right now all their services have different privacy policies and may have different pieces of data about you.  All Google is doing is writing a single policy that will apply to all their services and sharing your data between the different services.  It is actually simplifying things, to be honest.

Don't believe me?  Check out this article.  Still concerned?  Take a look at  Google's new policy yourself here.  You have a lot of power over what information is out there.  Seriously.  Take a look at Google's Good To Know pages. There are a lot of good tips on there on how to stay safe online

Now just relax.  If you really don't like it, you can opt out.  Yes.  You can opt out.  See, if you log out, Google doesn't associate what you are doing with your account.  You don't remain logged in without your consent.  So logging out is very powerful, isn't it?

Here are some things to remember:

  • If you are logged into one Google service - Gmail, for example - you will be logged into all Google services - like Google Docs or Google +.  If you log out of one, you are logged out of all of them.  Simple.
  • Google isn't going to suddenly start knowing more about you than it did before.  It simply will apply all the knowledge from one service to all of it's services. [as long as your account is the same in all of them.  If you use more than one account, this information will not be combined.]
  • You can always easily see if you are logged into Google.  The black bar that appears at the top of the screen when you use a Google product will have your name in the upper left corner if you are logged in.
One way to ease your mind is to take a look at the data that Google already has on you.  You can do that by using Google Dashboard.   You can also see how to remove information you might not want to be available on Dashboard.  Check it out.

It is easy to get upset and believe the hype when so many sources are screaming that something is wrong but it helps sometimes to take a step back and research a little yourself.  I think Google's integration plans are a good thing.  You should definitely take a look around and decide yourself, however. Don't take my word for it - or anyone else's.

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