Is Google’s New Privacy Policy Really a Big Deal?

March 1st has finally arrived, and so has Google’s new privacy policy. Ever since it was announced, the privacy policy has caused a firestorm of debate over whether Google was becoming too all-knowing of a company. The uproar was so intense that the European Union even signaled that it would start an investigation over whether the new privacy policy is even legal. The uproar has been intense, but has it really big justified?

Google’s new privacy policy, as most likely know, takes the privacy policies for over 60 different Google products and shrinks them down to one universal policy. Google’s stance is that the policy makes it easy for users to understand their data. For those who pay close attention to privacy, needing to know only one policy is a lot easier than needing to know dozens. The new policy takes a lot of the mystery regarding what individual Google products know about a user out of the equation. From March 1st and beyond, it’s all in one simple document.

The backlash surrounding the policy stems from how Google products can now interact and share information with one another. Under the terms of the old policy, a service like Google Docs couldn’t peer into a user’s Google Maps account. They were two separate products, even though a universal Google ID could be used to access either service. Now that the policies on each Google product have been condensed, different Google products can talk to each other. The company already had an alarmingly thorough knowledge of its users, and now all of that knowledge will be combined. Pundits have argued that this gives Google too much information.

On the other side of the spectrum, though, is the benefits that will stem from this new policy. One example given by the New York Daily News is that now if a user misspells the name of a friend in Google Docs, Docs can alert them to this by crosschecking that person’s Gmail history. Other benefits include being able to alert users to calendar appointments if, say, they have a calendar event scheduled in LA but Google’s Android GPS says the person is still in Indianapolis.

There are a lot of benefits and a lot of drawbacks to the new privacy policy. Much of the uproar can be seen as unjust since Google isn’t learning anything new about users; they’re just condensing knowledge they already had. Those who are truly concerned about privacy can either subscribe to a service like LifeLock to protect their information or stop using Google services. Either way, the new policy is here to stay.

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Scott S Bishop
Scott S. Bishop is editor for Real Time Marketer and a marketing strategist with a specialty in social media. He is an avid blogger and active across the net. He is @thescottbishop on Twitter
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