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Google: One Privacy Policy to Rule Them All
February 15, 2012 - 8:13pm

Beginning on March 1st, Google will eliminate more than 60 separate privacy policies and replace them with a single privacy policy for all of their services. A shiver ran across my back when I watched Google's Privacy Policy Update video and read their rationale for the policy change. The "One Policy, One Experience" webpage creeps me out. The verbiage on the page basically does its best to explain how this new unified privacy policy is a good thing and that users will benefit from a more "tailored" Google experience. Why does this make me feel like I'm being offered a candy bar by a scary person?

Google's motivations to unify their privacy policies seem more about connecting the various pipelines of user information that are currently not connected. I'm sure that advertisers are having a hard time keeping drool off of their keyboards. All of that data that Google collects is about to get even more connected, which most-likely means that advertisers will have even more options to propel their wares into our digital spaces.

To understand the scope of what this privacy change potentially means, feel free to surf over to your Google Dashboard. The Google Dashboard lists every single Google site and service that you currently use and/or are signed up for. There are 37 accounts in my dashboard as well as 17 additional products that are not yet listed. The scope of how many ways that you interact and engage with Google's services is quite telling when you see everything listed on a single page.

Now, head on over to Google's Ads Preferences Manager page. This gem of a page lets you peek behind Google's ad curtain to see (based on a cookie) how Google perceives you and how they use this perception to stream category-based advertising. Criticism of Facebook's privacy settings/tools are generally warranted. However, take a look at Google's privacy tools page and you will start to get a sense of the breadth/depth of everything you would have to do in order to not be tracked by Google.

Remember when I mentioned that privacy is fluid construct? Well, it seems that Google has decided that privacy is also a lucrative endeavor. Google's rhetorical maneuvering is well-written. Getting users to think that giving up their privacy will make their experience better is a smoothly constructed PR tactic, but it still tastes like sugarfree Kool-aid to me...and I'd rather not drink it.


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