Google Changes Privacy Policy

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Pressure from the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has resulted in Google changing their privacy policy. The ICO found that Google was “too vague when describing how it uses personal data gathered from its web services and products.”

Back in November 2014 I covered a story in which Facebook introduced a new simplified privacy advice page for use in the social network.As reported by the BBC, Google must make it easier for users to find out how their data is collected and what it is used for and submit to a two-year review.

Around the same time The Common Science and Technology Committee accused social networking firms of having overly long and complicated T&C’s.


“Reviewed and adjusted…”


This story appears to be along the same lines: the vague nature of Google’s privacy policy makes it very difficult for the average user to easily understand how their data is both collected and used.

All policies need to be reviewed and adjusted if needs be, and this obviously did. Privacy is a big issue and large companies dictate how, when, where and what they do with that data but give you little or no input or choice if that is ok,” Mark James, ESET security specialist, explains.

“Sadly if we want to use their services then that’s how it is. This policy should give us a much clearer understanding of exactly that, at least then you can make a much better informed decision on whether to use those services.”

But what are your other options? It often seems to be a compromise between how much you’d like to use a service and how much data you are willing to part with in the background, often for either unknown or not fully understood purposes.


“Google is not above the law…”


With the myriad of data breaches that we’ve seen over the past few months, I hope, it’s finally dawning on both business and home users alike that their personal information, not just financial information, has value.

Taking Google and my own daily use as an example, there is a huge amount of data that they are responsible for. I backup my photos, store documents, spreadsheets, notes and use Gmail on an almost daily basis.

The big question I ask myself is whether I’d be in trouble/embarrassed by anything I have stored on their services, if it were to leak online. If the answer is yes I probably wouldn’t put it online. As Mark has said before, online and private can’t exist in the same sentence.

“Any company that stores our data should clearly list exactly what they have done or intend to do with it. Google is not above the law and as a holder of so much info need to show their users exactly what they do with it.”

Although I firmly believe that any company which stores your data should take sufficient care of it and be held accountable if it is misappropriated or lost, a certain amount of the responsibility lies with the user and their understanding of the policy they agreed to.

“The average user will not read the Eula nor go looking for information directly relating to how they store nor what they do with said data. At least if you do care then the more information that’s available the better.”

No, I’m not saying sit and read every word of that huge privacy or end-user agreement for every site you sign up with but if you are going to store significant amounts of data, or move money through a service then it’s in your best interest to give it a read or at least do some research.

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Do you every read privacy or end-user agreements?