New privacy policy announcement by Google causes concern

Posted on January 31, 2012


Last week Google announced that there would be some changes to its privacy settings. The announcement made it clear that information of users is collected and compiled, measuring the activity of each user on various sites including Google search, YouTube and Gmail. The changes have proved to be a cause for concern for some, including Congress members in the US.

According to Google, the data collected is used to improve the experience of users of Google products, like the targeting of advertisements. A letter was composed and sent by eight members of Congress to the CEO of Google, Larry Page, requesting further details of the changes. The letter reads:

“While Google suggests that the purpose of this shift in policy is to make the consumer experience simpler, we want to make sure it does not make protecting consumer privacy more complicated.”

It was also mentioned that, as Google reaches out all over the world, the changes “potentially touches billions of people worldwide”. The letter asks for details of data which is collected, and how the information will be used.

Betsy Masiello, from Google, responded by pointing out that data is only collected when a user is logged into a product. A number of products are available for use without logging in. Users who are logged in to a product are able to control their search histories by either turning them off or editing them. For example, Google Chat may take place using “off the record” or by using “incognito mode”.

Businesses have a reliance on data being collected by Google to enhance their search engine optimisation campaign, although a number of changes could make some SEO jobs much harder.

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