The Panic Over Google’s New Privacy Rules Is Ridiculous

Google fear scream

Yesterday, Google announced some big changes to its privacy policy that will let the company share information between different services.

Basically, instead of collecting information on Gmail and YouTube and Google+ and storing them in different silos, Google is now acting like a single Internet service. It’s doing this to make its products better — it can suggest search results based on what it knows you like, for instance. It can also help advertisers serve more accurate ads.

This has made a couple of people very angry — Mat Honan at Gizmodo even trotted out the “e” word.

This is ridiculous. As we’ve written before, Google is turning into a portal — a collection of integrated services. Yes, this is quite different from what Google claimed to be a long time ago, but that’s the new reality. Larry Page even told employees that they could leave if they didn’t like it.

These these new privacy policies are exactly what you’d expect from an integrated portal.

Just about every other Internet service provider shares information to make its own products better and target ads.

Facebook uses your private information to suggest other friends for you. Microsoft will use your private information to display “content and advertising that are customised to your needs and preferences.” AOL, Yahoo, you name it. 

If you’re one of the few people who is really worried about what Google thinks it knows about you, you can solve the problem pretty easily by:

  • Signing out of Gmail (or any other Google service) when you’re done using it.
  • Setting your browser up to clear cookies every time you close it.

This is what I do, and Google knows nothing about my ad preferences. I’ve been a Gmail user since 2004, and I signed up for Google+ at launch and regularly post there.

Really, the only weird part was that Google announced the changes at the EXACT time that Apple’s earnings release crossed the wire, which made it seem like they were hoping to bury the news. Next time, they might be better served by making changes like this when the tech world isn’t totally distracted with other news.