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01 March 2012 @ 11:46 am
Google's new privacy policy  
Not entirely getting the panic.

I fully recognise that there are probably some people who were relying in an important way on Google Search, Google Mail, YouTube and Blogger keeping their information separate. However Google has given lots of warning that the change is coming, and I don't see any reason in principle why a web-based company should not share information between all its web-based services so long as it's up-front about the fact. So I find it hard to work up even the low-level sense of outrage I occasionally manage when Facebook springs some sweeping change to privacy settings on me.

I do, of course, see that Google's emphasis on "real names only" for Google+ etc may prevent people with legitimate reasons to operate pseudonymously when online from accessing Google's other services. But its real names policy seems to me to be tangential to the issue of linking its data. Obviously the issues interact, but I see more reason to fight the real names only policy than to fight the new privacy policy.

What I'm really not clear about is why it is particularly important that I, personally, take various steps (or should have done since it's now March 1st and so I'm basically doomed) to scrub my information from all Google's platforms. I mean this is the company whose search engine (when it confesses to knowing anything about me at all) thinks I'm a man, between the ages of 25 and 35 who's main interests are computer games, American football and women's clothing. I wouldn't actually be complaining if they could join a few more dots than that, to be honest. I should really re-check it, come to think of it, and see if, now they've linked my web search to my Google+ account, they've managed to work out I'm female.

Maybe I'm failing to see the panic because I'm moderately careful about who gets what personal information anyway, and have never assumed that any company (especially one based in the US) is going to keep it entirely secure and inviolate. I also suspect I tend to over-estimate rather than under-estimate the ease with which my online identities could be linked. Frankly, I was surprised to learn that Google+ wasn't already linked up with Blogger, YouTube and Search!!

Maybe I'm failing to see the panic simply because I don't really use most of these services. I use search a lot, I post videos for family to YouTube, but my usage of all the over services is minimal to non-existent.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/62291.html.
bunnbunn on March 1st, 2012 12:56 pm (UTC)
My only problem with Google is that when they have linked stuff that does not need/want linking, I keep having to set up new personas. I am so many Google-people, I think I could set up a small kingdom (ruled, obviously, by me. But wearing which hat???)
louisedennislouisedennis on March 1st, 2012 02:09 pm (UTC)
Yes, I can see it must be inconvenient for anyone who needs to worry about SEO to any extent, because of the need to find out what results someone who isn't them is going to get.
bunnbunn on March 1st, 2012 03:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, well that's not really a problem - you just use a browser that you never use to log into anything and therefore uncustomised, and set it to clear history. I use IE as my plain-vanilla browser. And anyway, for SEO I prefer to use enquiries and traffic as my main metric, there's no messing about with 'I can't see what you can see' in that situation,if people are actually making phonecalls and sending emails you can be pretty sure they are real...

But I still have several different hats - a dog rescue hat, an SEO hat, an archaeological-interests hat, an acting-on-behalf-of-a-widget-manufacturer, acting-on-behalf-of-a-specialist-travel-agent, etc etc. and they don't always play nicely together.

Although in theory Google provides my 'agency' login which provides for multiple work-related hats, that is somewhat limited in functionality. They assume that the people who pay the bills will have their own logins to the tools, but in my case, the person that my clients trust and expect to sort out any niggles is mostly me, they don't have in-house staff working on it. They don't know how the technology works and they don't want to (I do try to get them interested, but it's a steep and slippery slope!) So I tend to end up creating multiple IDs, because otherwise my poor clients are constantly forwarding me messages from Google with panicky 'What do I do about this???' requests for help. Or they delete them on the grounds that 'Bunn will sort it out' - which can be a pain if Bunn did not actually know that anything needed sorting...
fredbassettfredbassett on March 1st, 2012 01:23 pm (UTC)
I find the ability of people like facebook and linked in to data mine information even if you don't allow them to link to your address book scary enough, so I don't exactly look on this with approval, but then I don't entirely understand quite what they're doing, either.

Mind you, I'm not wholly sure I want people to have access to my browser history!
louisedennislouisedennis on March 1st, 2012 02:20 pm (UTC)
Well I don't think any people who didn't previously have access to your browser history (or, in this case, the history of search terms typed into Google) will suddenly have acquired it. All the information stays within Google so remains as vulnerable as it ever was to the US's laxer data protection laws and the ability of the US gov to seize files and so on.

However now, when running their algorithms to target ads at you Google Search can take a peek at what you've been looking at on YouTube to tailor those ads, and YouTube can take a peek at your Google Search history in order to tailor those ads. In the event that Google were to buy up LJ or FaceBook or something then presumably that data would go into the big melting pot as well. But its all still Google if you take my meaning, and the safety of your data still basically depends upon the extent to which Google is both competent and ethical.

If it worries you at all, clearing out your browser's cookies regularly will make it a lot harder for Google to track you since it is via cookies that it identifies that you are the same person it saw last time. It can now potentially track you if you log into one of its services and then perform a search so, again, if it worries you don't log into any Google owned services or, if you do, clear out your cookies both before and after you do so.

If you want to know the information Google has stored about you then it's privacy dashboard is a good place to start.
(no subject) - fredbassett on March 1st, 2012 02:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on March 1st, 2012 02:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
louisedennislouisedennis on March 1st, 2012 02:23 pm (UTC)
this website also has a link so you can see how Google has you categorized.
(no subject) - fredbassett on March 1st, 2012 02:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on March 1st, 2012 02:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fredbassett on March 1st, 2012 02:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
lonemagpielonemagpie on March 1st, 2012 02:22 pm (UTC)
Basically, people who logged in with their Youtube or Google accounts to search for porn are bricking it that Google can now tell the government what wank material they've been looking for, in case any of it's not quite legal in their country.

You'd think people would just, y'know, not log in to do that kind of search, but there you go...
fredbassettfredbassett on March 1st, 2012 02:25 pm (UTC)
But all that internet porn won't read itself! It's a hard, dirty job, but someone has to do it. *g*
(no subject) - louisedennis on March 1st, 2012 02:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lonemagpie on March 1st, 2012 02:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fredbassett on March 1st, 2012 02:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
louisedennislouisedennis on March 1st, 2012 02:26 pm (UTC)
I thought it was something like that but, you know, Google is tracking you via cookies anyway so it probably knows you've been searching for porn anyway - I'm struggling to think of a situation where combining the search terms you typed into Google Search combined with the actual videos viewed on YouTube are so staggeringly more damning than one or the other taken individually.

I feel a bit like when the ticker thing popped up on FaceBook. They already had all this information, its just you've only suddenly realised that they have it and its become a little easier for someone in the right place to put it all together.
(no subject) - lonemagpie on March 1st, 2012 02:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on March 1st, 2012 02:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lonemagpie on March 1st, 2012 02:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Tsixgun45lc on March 1st, 2012 03:22 pm (UTC)
Come on now, admit it; you're a HUGE Oakland Raiders fan, right? ;)
louisedennislouisedennis on March 1st, 2012 03:27 pm (UTC)
The whole American Football thing has me completely mystified. I assume it is actually Urban Dead related in some way since the browser in question is primarily used for playing Urban Dead. So it's possibly related to the paid ads on the game... or something... I've no idea. I can't think of when I ever searched on anything to do with American Football.
Tsixgun45lc on March 1st, 2012 03:33 pm (UTC)
I think that's hysterical. I don't recall you ever letting on that you were a sports fan of any sort let alone NFL football. Perhaps they're assuming facts that are not in evidence. You like killing zombies (violent) so you must like football (theoretically violent).
(no subject) - louisedennis on March 1st, 2012 03:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sixgun45lc on March 1st, 2012 03:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
philmophlegm: raidersshieldphilmophlegm on March 1st, 2012 03:31 pm (UTC)
...or possibly someone on her friends list is!
Tsixgun45lc on March 1st, 2012 03:33 pm (UTC)
*laughs* Awesome!
louisedennislouisedennis on March 1st, 2012 03:46 pm (UTC)
Because, you know, anytime I want to read your blog I search on "Oakland Raiders" rather than trying to remember your username (though come to think of it!!...)
(no subject) - philmophlegm on March 1st, 2012 04:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jane_somebody on March 17th, 2012 01:37 am (UTC) (Expand)