Google’s new privacy policy?

I got an e-mail saying that Google would be updating it’s privacy policy as of March 1st this year.  Normally such e-mails would probably go straight into the bin, but I recall seeing something about this newly updated privacy policy in the news, so I decided to take a look.

First of all, the e-mail doesn’t actually contain the new privacy policy.  You have to click through to a website, and then from there, follow another a link, in order to find the actual privacy policy wording.

I have a feeling that companies intentionally make privacy policies as reader un-friendly as possible in order to perhaps mask their true nature?  The new Google privacy policy comes in at 2,258 words, which is long even by my verbose standards.  While it seems like they have done their best to keep it simple, I can’t really make sense of what the actual changes are or how they use my information.  Google says “We’ll better understand which version of Pink or Jaguar you’re searching for and get you those results faster”.  Yes, I appreciate it that when I type in “New World” into Google I get the locations and phone numbers for the nearest supermarkets, not Mallick’s “The New World”, or stuff about monkeys with prehensile tails.  Google knowing who I am and my browsing history makes life easier for me in some ways.  However, it also means some information may be more difficult for me to access or find, simply because it’s not part of my normal internet usage routine.

I also have a feeling that Google tends to get away with stuff, because unlike Facebook (at least for me), we trust Google.  We think of Google as the benevolent information overlord, who wants to help us find what we want, give us efficient e-mail and other services.

I am not one of those people who is exceptionally private (hence, this blog), nor am I exceptionally paranoid that people are stealing my personal information and using it to do terrible things behind my back, however, I do fear a world where that kind of thing happens and no one can do anything about it.

So, can I wean myself off Google products?  What alternatives are there?  And, should I be concerned about Google’s ethics on my privacy and personal information? I have no idea.  But thinking about these kinds of questions can’t hurt.

I’ve just realised lately I have been writing a lot about technology and how it’s impact on society.  It’s certainly not a topic I am particularly an expert in, but it does interest me.  I am sure there are other people with a great deal more actual knowledge on the topic than me, but what is this blog if not a place where I can talk a bunch of shit without any real facts to back it up?


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