Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Changing our privacy policies, not our privacy controls

Last week we heard from members of Congress about Google’s plans to update our privacy policies by consolidating them into a single document on March 1. Protecting people’s privacy is something we think about all day across the company, and we welcome discussions about our approach.

We hope this letter, in which we respond to the members’ questions, clears up the confusion about these changes. We’re updating our privacy policies for two reasons:

First, we’re trying to make them simpler and more understandable, which is something that lawmakers and regulators have asked technology companies to do. By folding more than 60 product-specific privacy policies into our main Google one, we’re explaining our privacy commitments to users of those products in 85% fewer words.

Second, we want to make our users’ experience seamless and easy by allowing more sharing of information among products when users are signed into their Google Accounts. In other words, we want to make more of your information available to you when you’re signed into Google services.

Some important things aren’t changing:
  • We’re still keeping your private information private -- we’re not changing the visibility of any information you have stored with Google.
  • We’re still allowing you to do searches, watch videos on YouTube, get driving directions on Google Maps, and perform other tasks without signing into a Google Account.
  • We’re still offering you choice and control through privacy tools like Google Dashboard and Ads Preferences Manager that help you understand and manage your data.
  • We still won’t sell your personal information to advertisers.
  • We’re still offering data liberation if you’d prefer to close your Google Account and take your data elsewhere.
While our privacy policies will change on March 1, our commitment to our privacy principles is as strong as ever.


Stephen said...
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CHoldredge said...
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CHoldredge said...

"We still won’t sell your personal information TO ADVERTISERS" is an interestingly specific claim. Would you be willing to provide more information about the organizations with which Google DOES share our information?

Specifically, who are the "affiliated companies" and "other trusted businesses" your refer to in the information sharing section of your privacy policy? Have any of them provided compensation to Google in return for access to our data? And what, exactly, in a "legal process or enforceable governmental request"? How does it differ from an actual cort order?

Patrick said...

Dear Pablo, I think what users want to hear from Google is a strong and unflinching commitment towards their genuine
Privacy concerns. From a communications point of view the five "we're still doing x or z" may not cut it, because it sounds defensive and still open to change if Google decides so. "We're firmly committed to x" or "we believe in y" would be the kind of statements people would need from Google. Kind regards, Patrick

Pflaumental said...

5 bullets designed to distinguish Google from Facebook?

Words1 said...

Privacy always has been an Important part of my Life, I can have my own privacy, been in the center of 10,000 peoples or more, its up to me, to keep and maintain such Privacy, first by respect to others and ready to help others, to manage their own Privacy, without involving our selves directly with the personal facts, everyone should be willing to keep in private. Privacy and the control of our own privacy begins with Self-respect? two Words that, - by the way - imply unconditional respect for others, and others Possession's., That is if we value our own.

AF said...

I don't mind the cross-service thing but have been watching for any changes affecting my current Dashboard privacy settings. It may be you can or will consolidate but not remove those. Hopefully, I continue using Google as I do.

don said...

I appreciate your attempt to be open and transparent. These public policy blog posts are sooo reassuring!

HA HA I jest of course.

But on a serious note, the question people want an answer to is simple.


Answering "Don't use Google" or "Log Out" isn't a serious answer because it is too expensive to change email providers at this point.

Also, could you please address the "evil" issue. Is "Don't be evil" the official Google policy? Thanks!

mario moreno said...

Qué es lo que estás permitiendo? Si te estás enriqueciendo a mi costa, ¿no deberían ofrecerme al menos 1€ por anuncio puesto en mi blog?. Con mi actividad permito que ustedes ofrezcan espacios publicitarios, y ese espacio, cuesta dinero. Gracias.

Unknown said...

"We’re still allowing you to do searches... without signing into a Google Account"

This is a misleading statement. In the fine print, you are NOT allowing people to have Gmail open in one tab, and search in another without the search also being signed in with the Gmail account. You should come clean with that instead of pretending it's all good.

This is a significant issue, and no amount of "we give you control" rhetoric alters the fact. Yes, I could open a different browser and use Gmail, but that isn't practical. Browsing with multiple tabs open is common these days, people are searching in one tab, youtubing in another etc, so there is no practical solution to search without being logged into Google if I happen to be using Gmail.

Email has NOTHING to do with search. I do not want to be signed into Google when I use search, just because I happen to have Gmail open in another tab. Google has made a mistake with forcing this global Google account across services. Sure, some may like it, but not providing an option to opt-out of this behavior is not cool.

Google's job isn't to dictate how and when I am signed in. Google seems to be trying to be all-powerful, all-knowing - linking my email account with what I search for on the web. Fine, leave it as default, but please give us the option to unlink our Gmail accounts from everything else... like it used to be before you silently changed it 2 years ago or whenever it was.

Unknown said...

@unknown: use an incognito window then.

Guild Killer said...

@CHoldredge Personal info means name, phone number, address, etc. This is a crude representation of what Google does with advertising but just think about it. Google says you, CHoldredge, are random user 1943256 and likes cake, show user 1943256 ads about cake.
Not sure what you meant about court order, but "enforceable governmental request" is a fancy way of saying court order.

@unknown I see what you are saying. Remember that Gmail is not an account but rather a service you receive access to through your Google Account. This is the same concept that if you use Hotmail, you are signed into Microsoft services. Likewise with Yahoo.
Your solution to this is using incognito mode to do any web browsing you do not want tracked. Whether it be for banking privacy concerns or keeping that surprise party you are planning a secret.

I hope these help you and more understanding what Google is doing. They are simply doing what they already do. Just making it more simple to understand. Feel free to PM me if you have more questions.
Pablo, Google, feel free to PM me if I have said anything incorrect, as well! I do not wish to misrepresent anyone here.

Unknown said...

@Guild Killer The problem is I shouldn't need to use a special browsing mode as a workaround to Google or Yahoo or any online giant forcing me to "have fries with that". I do not want fries with my email.

And perhaps you forget that these email services were not originally offered as a service I receive through a Google account. The world was invited to "get a Gmail account" not a "Google account". Same with Yahoo mail, who have jumped on the forced global registration when using just one of their services.

Just because Yahoo and Microsoft do the same thing, doesn't make it right. It's a manipulation and unapproved change of the original sign-up agreement with Gmail. I never asked or wanted an automatic sign-in to Google-world when I created my Gmail account. This is as I see it, an untrustworthy action on Google's part. Email is a one of those services that is tricky to just leave, and personal enough to want to protect from spam and unauthorized data sharing. I could close my account, but I have an existing email address I'd rather keep. The whole point to this rant is about lack of choice. I don't want a "Google account", I want a Gmail account because that's what I signed up to when I accepted the invitation years ago.

Google has changed the terms, which makes me think they will change things whenever they feel like it to suit their needs. I will be phasing out my real-name Gmail account (sorry, "Google account") because of this. I'll keep my anonymous account because that's all Google's good for now. They can throw all the fries they like at my anonymous account.

nick said...

@unknown stop crying like a 2 year old about how google should cater to your every wish and desire, for the love of god. Its people like YOU that try to ruin it for everyone else. LOOK UP YOUR PORN IN AN INCOGNITO WINDOW, or use a different service. Everyone but you wants their youtube gmail docs and g+ all linked, i want it all connected, and you should too unless youre doing something illegal or questionable. So act like a big boy, put the lotion down and pull up your pants, because youre acting like a child, and rather selfish at that. No one cares whats practical for you, its about whata practical for real people, common people, the majority, not some punk kid who thinks everyone should do what you say because your mommy and daddy had enough money to hire a maid. Grow up, you look like a retard. Thanks! And have a wonderful day mr. Sunshine! Kisses and hugs.

Mathview said...

Good work Google for opening this blog for comments and discussion of Google's impending new privacy policy.

It has frightened and disappointed millions of your customers.

Maybe the policy is not as evil as it seems, however, it has clearly been a major public relations disaster.

Reminds us of the famous ...
"We don't care. We don't have to."

Hang in there and don't screw up again.

Unknown said...

@nick it's about being in control of one's activity and resulting data on the web. It's about management of one's own linked data and information experiences online. It's about choice of whether to allow a corporation to "look after your stuff" or whether to deal with it on your own terms, or have it managed under an shared arrangement agreed by all.

It's NOT about wanting to be naughty on the internet, it's NOT about the minority wishes of pedantic users. The concerns I raise are more to do with respect and balance.

Just because "nick the common man's representative" pipes up about how we should obey whatever terms are handed down from nameless strategists within mega-corporations, doesn't mean there isn't a case to question and suggest improvements for the good of all.

Try calling Google and talking to someone. Try chatting to someone, you won't be able to. But don't worry, show them your drivers license, give them access to your location, contacts, history, media, interests, etc and let them change their terms any time to allow increased default powers over that data.

All that said, I am a huge fan of certain Google products. Maybe this is why i care enough to post too much on this blog (sorry, Moderator, delete mine if you want i dont care).

But if I had to maintain a registered, signed-in relationship with Panasonic every time I wanted to watch TV, I'd sell my TV and flame Panasonic.

It's not just Google. So many stores, like my local pet store tries to get me to sign up every time I go to buy pet food. I'm not interested. I just want to buy some cat biscuits, nothing more.

Good Luck! Over 'n Out.