Data Privacy and You

In this post, with the help of real life examples I am trying to help you understand the impact of data privacy in the web world in particular the Google based services you use.

Google is getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read. ‘One policy, one Google experience’, how convenient isn’t it?

All of us who use any of the Google services like search, email, YouTube, Maps and many more are directly impacted by the policy change. You would be seeing a message pop up each time you logon to any of the Google services

Google Privacy Policy

March 1, 2012 is when the new Privacy Policy and Google Terms of Service will come into effect. If you choose to keep using Google once the change occurs, you will be doing so under the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

So how this does impacts you and me?

Your data on the web:

  1. What Google say: Say you go to the same coffee shop every morning for a latte and the same barista makes it for you every day. Chances are he’ll know your order before you even walk through the door. Websites, including Google, have learned a lot from this relationship. We’ve learned that we can serve you better if we get to know you better.
  2. What it actually means:

i.      Google claims it will serve you content according to your preference.

ii.      To me it is like each time I visit the coffee shop I will be served latte by default without even asking me

iii.      What if I would want to have a look at other items in the menu? Of course I can, but by tracking my previous history it will serve me latte by default.

iv.      It will also track where I live, what I route do I take to my office and where my office is ( cookies, IP addresses, browsers), what preferences I have at office.And even at my home, during my travel and at my office it will keep reminding me that I like latte and I should have it.

To give you another example, let’s just say you used Google search for Katrina Kaif (she is one of the most searched people on Google, so someone surely is searching her J (on Google I mean)). Next time you logon onto search it will show you advert related to Katrina Kaif, if you logon to YouTube all Katrina Kaif videos will be showed as your preferences and videos you should watch, you may start getting emails about her and so on…

If it is just Katrina Kaif it is still ok, but I know how sane we are and how insane our search on Google gets, trust me it has a lot more potential to embarrass you.

And it is not just about embarrassment, someone on the internet is holding onto your data, telling you it may use it as it wants, gives you no or very limited options to opt-out.  It is invading your privacy. It is like a person/company tracking all your moves in the real world and trying to sell you its product and /or services based on your movement and activities.

Not just that, under the terms and services when you upload or otherwise submit content to Google Services, you give Google (and those it work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes Google make so that your content works better with Google Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

What can you do about it?

Unfortunately the answer is nothing. Google give you no or very limited options to opt-out of it. And with the monopoly of Google at least when it comes to search you have no other option to go. What alternative you have is use Google services without logging onto your Google accounts, disable your cookies (if you do so, you may not be able to even use some services and get an error/message to enable your cookies), or probably create a fake/second/new account.

Though Google has come up with very interesting and impressing ‘The Good to Know campaign’ it expertly avoids the detailed impacts.

I have used Google just an example, and it may be true for any other services you use on internet. One that strikes my mind is Facebook which deserves a separate post.

Just be as careful in giving out your personal information on internet as you would to be to a stranger in the real world.


2 thoughts on “Data Privacy and You

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