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Google Changes Its Privacy Policies

Take the time to understand what Google knows about you and how they will use that information

As of March 1, you will need to agree with Google's new privacy policies in order to use their services (Gmail, Calendar, YouTube, Google+ and much more) with the exception of Google Books, Google Wallet and Google Chrome. They say it's to unify more than 70 privacy policies across their product lines and to streamline the user experience.

No Opting Out

In many ways, this change allows you to learn more about what Google knows about you. Consider this: Google can see the content of your emails if you use Gmail, where you like to visit if you use Google Maps, if you have enabled GPS information on your Android phone, or your precise location throughout the day.

The price for such excellent services is to allow our information to be analyzed so that more targeted ads can reach us. We have to admit that Google is not providing all these ‘free’ tools out of the goodness of their hearts, they are a mega for-profit, successful company.

The Only Game in Town

Where this is troubling is that many of us have no choice but to use their products. Many universities and government institutions use Gmail as their email service provider. This personally identifying data may not be shared with third parties, frankly our data is their valued asset, but with a subpoena Google may provide information with local, state or federal agencies.

You don’t have to be paranoid about this data collection, as credit card issuers and insurance companies also track this type of data, but you should inform yourself on the policies.

I read the FAQs, the Transparency Report, including US data, and their Policies and then I went to my Dashboard to see what Google has gleaned from my use of its products (they also have aDashboard video on YouTube). Things I had forgotten about were there, things that I was surprised to see and things that I didn’t realize I hadn’t set stricter privacy settings. I also learned that Google was right about where I lived, that I liked books, music and technology but it had determined that I was most likely a male between the ages of 39-44. As a 45 year-old woman, that amused me but it showed that even their massive algorithms were not always correct.

Be Strict

I use Facebook, I use Google, I will continue to do so even without the option of opting out. I tightened my privacy settings and I will find alternatives to their Calendar and Gmail. I highly recommend that you should take the time to think about these things for yourself as well.

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