If you’ve been around the web long enough, you will remember the rise of Google and how they were the good guys of the internet, with the best search tool and the good intentions of helping us make sense of the burgeoning mess of websites and find the information that we actually wanted to find.
Google were fun people who had ball pits and slides in the office, and most importantly they were on our side.If you just landed recently you would be forgiven for thinking that Google are now one of the biggest threats to our independent use of the web, with a single plan for domination of our hearts and minds at the expense of pretty much anyone who dares to get in the way.
The former appears simpler, but the latter actually allows you a great deal more understanding of what you are signing up to at the point of using a new service, as opposed to a blanket policy whose implications aren’t yet fully realised by users. When the policy kicks in (from 1 March), user information from most Google products including YouTube, Google Maps, Google+, and so on, will be seen as a single data source – to be used by Google however they like within the confines of that policy.
This way Google will be able to accumulate an extremely powerful single source of data on an individual across web and mobile use, which could touch major points of your own personal life and which ‘in real life’ you currently would like to remain separate – where you are meeting someone for example, or banking details, what you are looking for online.
This presents Google with infinite opportunities for targeted advertising or other revenue-raising purposes, and offers a potentially too-coherent picture of a user’s life ripe for manipulation. And introduced as it will be with no opt-out, albeit with the intention of introducing a more seamless and intuitive user experience, makes it ripe for those conspiracy theorists who believe that Google is intent on taking over our worlds for bad purposes – even if Google are really focusing on the user experience.
What do you think of Google’s latest move? It is provoking plenty of commentary in the news – see these articles if you want to read more, and leave me a comment below with your views.
- Google announces privacy changes across products; users can’t opt out from The Washington Post.
- Google user data to be merged across all sites under contentious plan from The Guardian.