Privacy concerns with Google

On Jan. 24, Google changed its privacy policy. It did not go unnoticed; Google account users and privacy advocates alike stated their concerns over the new changes. These changes integrated all of  Google’s services into one account. Before each account for Google+ and YouTube may have used the same username/password combination, but were seen as two separate entities; under the new policy, these accounts and their data are all recorded as a single account.

Google's latest privacy revisions are leaving many concerned about their privacy. Photo from Creative Commons.

The concern with the switch in account policy is focused on the new search history function now available. The search history function allows those using Google+ to see when their friends have searched for similar content using the Google search engine. This new feature is the biggest point of contention with the new security policies rolled out on Jan. 24.

While much has been said about the search history feature by users and Internet privacy groups alike, Google was quick to point out that the feature could be disabled under settings. Google makes it no secret that they profit off of using and selling their users’ data from any of their services. What Google envisions with these new security policies is something that allows users to better enhance their experience.

Google’s response to the growing uneasiness over the policy changes was a statement addressing the concerns of privacy advocates and users. The statement informed users that Google was collecting no more data than it was before. The changes in policy just altered how some of that data was viewed and simplified the process of data collection. Several congressmen have sent a letter to Google’s CEO asking for clarification on these improved privacy policies.

Photo from Creative Commons.

For those still concerned about these new data security policies, there are a few ways around them. For starters, this new function can be disabled. For those who don’t want to take the risk, they can still use Google services without logging into an account; Google does not record data of unregistered or unlogged users. There is always the option to just not use Google’s services. There are other websites and companies that provide many of the same services as Google.

This change in policy and new feature was a wakeup call for many Google users. The amount of data which the search engine giant stores on its users is alarming. It is through the sale of this data that the company makes its money, so it should not be shocking that they store so much of what people do and how they use their services. Maybe this change in policy will breed a wider awareness over the need to better manage personal data.