Profiting from personal user data
The new policy allows Google to cross-pollinate personal user data recorded on any of its 60 products, including Search, GMail, Google Maps and YouTube – thereby allowing the US company to build and store an accurate profile of its users’ behaviour and interests.
The detailed user profiles are then used to optimise user targeting of adverts – making them more personal and intrusive. Advertising is Google’s main source of income, which amounted to $8 billion in the last quarter of 2011.
Android smartphone users affected
Even users of smartphones and tablets using Google’s popular Android operating system are affected.
Enforced policy: No “opt out”
Concerns about legality
“Unfair and unwise”
Intrusion on people’s privacy
British Conservative MP David Davis, a prominent campaigner on civil liberties, also voiced concerns.
“If the state collected the amount of information on individuals as Google does there would be uproar,” he was quoted by the Press Association as saying.
“If Google continues to deliberately and sometimes covertly intrude on people’s privacy then they are inviting countries to legislate to limit the freedom of action of all web companies,” Davis warned.
Google: “as strong as ever”
“As we’ve said several times over the past week, while our privacy policies will change on 1st March, our commitment to our privacy principles is as strong as ever,” Mr Fleischer wrote in a blog post.
Google has a poor track record when it comes to protecting user privacy.
In 2010 it emerged that Google had inadvertently been collecting WiFi packet data through its Street View cars.
More recently, the Internet giant has come under intense fire after it emerged it “bypassed Safari privacy protection” – tracking the web browsing history of millions of iPhone users.