One Login, Lots of Data: Google’s Simplified Privacy Policy

Google is doing some winter cleaning, getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies and replacing them with one that's shorter and easier to read. The new policy, which will go into effect March 1, 2012, covers multiple Google products and features, and reflects Google’s desire to create one simple Web experience—one that revolves around their offerings, of course. 

“Our new Privacy Policy makes clear that, if you’re signed in, we may combine information you've provided from one service with information from other services,” said Alma Whitten, director of privacy, product and engineering, on Google’s blog on Jan. 23.  

The change comes just two weeks after the introduction of Google Search Plus Your World. Whitten said that, under that change, when someone searches for restaurants in certain areas, they might see Google+ posts or photos that people have shared with them, or that are in their own albums—and that’s where PR professionals have an opportunity. The more vast and connected their network is on Google+, the more likely their pages and content are to appear within users’ Web searches. 

Whitten says Google’s new policy's goal is to provide users with as much transparency and choice as possible. “We try hard to be transparent about the information we collect, and to give you meaningful choices about how it is used—for example our Ads Preferences Manager enables you to edit the interest categories we advertise against or turn off certain Google ads altogether. And we continue to design privacy controls, like Google+’s circles, into our products from the ground up.”

Over time, the integration of one privacy policy across the suite of Google products will mean better Google search results in ads, said Whitten, allowing advertisers the potential to reach a more targeted audience.

Google's privacy policies have raised red flags in the past, and this is no different. As Google continues to try to better understand the habits and traits of its users across its products, it's important that users are aware of the privacy concerns that exist when behavioral advertising is used to target particular content at individuals. 
Follow Bill Miltenberg @bmiltenberg