posted by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Jan 2012 22:45 UTC
IconGoogle has updated its privacy policy - in fact, it has consolidated a mess of over 70 different privacy policies each covering an individual service into one, simpler policy. You'll now be treated as a single account, and data will be shared between Google services to make search results and ads more personalised (I assumed they already did that - makes sense).

Privacy policies are not fun. They're written in legalese, and then that particularly nasty dialect of legalese written by corporate lawyers. The major internet services company that it is, Google had tons of privacy policies - over 70, in fact. They've now consolidated all these policies into one, simpler policy, which covers most Google services.

This also means that Google will start sharing data and information between its services. In other words, what YouTube videos you watch (only while logged into your Google account, of course) could potentially influence search results. It opens the door to a whole load of other cool features as well.

"We can make search better - figuring out what you really mean when you type in Apple, Jaguar or Pink. We can provide more relevant ads too. For example, it's January, but maybe you're not a gym person, so fitness ads aren't that useful to you," Alma Whitten, Google's director of privacy, product and engineering, explains, "We can provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day. Or ensure that our spelling suggestions, even for your friends' names, are accurate because you've typed them before."

In all honesty, I assumed Google already did this - heck, it makes sense. Personalised search and advertisements make the web better for a lot of people, so I'm okay with all this stuff, especially taking into account you can turn personalised search and ads off. Heck, few companies provide the kind of fine-grained control over collected data as Google does, including the ability to move your data out of Google products and switch to alternatives.

And, as we've covered on OSNews before, there's always DuckDuckGo for a completely vanilla search experience. In addition - and this goes for any website - the web only knows what you consciously put into it. If you don't want Google or Facebook to know something, don't tell it to them. You don't shout your secrets in a crowded mall either, do you?

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