According to a blog post and e-mail sent to users last week, Google is “getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies” and replacing them with a single, shorter, and easier to read policy, effective March 1, 2012.
The new policy allows sharing of a user’s information across various Google services. Google’s blog post explains: “If you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”
The change comes shortly after users voiced privacy concerns about Google’s new search feature, which mixes Google search results with personalized results from its Google Plus social network. Critics have complained that this new feature violates the privacy of users who were unaware that their Google Plus posts would appear in search results.
Since the new policy announcement, two members of the U.S. House of Representatives have written a letter asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the new policy violates a settlement reached by Google last year over its short-lived Buzz social networking site. Complaining that under the new policy “consumers will have no choice but to either accept the new policy or stop using the company’s services,” Rep. Ed. Markey (D-Mass) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex), expressed concern that the lack of an opt-out option raises important privacy concerns.
The new terms and services are available at http://www.google.com/policies. For more information on drafting Internet privacy policies and/or protecting your privacy on the Internet, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader must consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.