Google responds to US Congress privacy concerns

Chris Davies - Jan 31, 2012, 9:10am CST
Google responds to US Congress privacy concerns

Google has responded to US Congress demands for information on the search giants recent privacy policy changes, detailing the amendments in a 13-page letter that attempts to hammer home that Google’s “approach to privacy has not changed.” The new policy – which streamlines the majority of Google’s existing privacy policies into a single document – actually saves on 85-percent of the previous reading required, Google’s director of public policy, Pablo Chavez, wrote today on the company’s Public Policy Blog.

“The main change in the updated privacy policy is for users signed into Google Accounts” Google writes in its letter. “Individuals don’t need to sign in to use many of our services including Search, Maps, and YouTube.” Meanwhile, “users can use as much or as little of Google as they want” and “continue to have the ability to take their information elsewhere quickly and simply.”

The lawmakers had issued Google with a long list of questions they wanted answers to, and given the search company until mid-February to reply. Google’s response – the bulk of the 13-page document – comes early, then; among the more interesting elements is that the increased interaction between Google services – one of the things that the company said was a key benefit to users – was actually possible already, based on the existing privacy policies. In fact, only integrating YouTube history and search history with other Google offerings was not permitted.

“So if a user who likes to cook searches for recipes on Google,” the company says of the existing policy, “we are not able to recommend cooking videos when that user visits YouTube, even though he is signed in to the same Google Account when using both.” That will change when the new terms come into effect on March 1.

As for deleting data should a user want to clear their footprint on Google services, the search company says that’s somewhat tricky: everything it does is set up to prevent data loss, not purposefully get rid of it. “Immediate deletion is not always practicable due to the way the archiving system operates” the company says, though requests for full deletion will eventually be carried out “within a reasonable period of time” bar anything retained for “legal compliance.”


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7 Responses to Google responds to US Congress privacy concerns

  1. at first, i kind of ignored the whole google privacy topic simply because i didn’t care. i knew they were tracking all my info because it’s google…but i didn’t really think much of it. if i went somewhere else, somebody else would be doing it. it’s just the way the internet works now. but now with them trying to make my web experience better by knowing my each and every step feels a little too personal.

    what about if i go incognito on google chrome and search for valentine’s day gifts. and when a significant other uses my computer and searches on google, and all of a sudden the same things i was looking for pop up because i’m always logged into my google account – doesn’t that just create potential to mess with my personal life? and that’s something small. who knows what people search for on their own time when they are alone…it’s personal. it should be kept personal. 

    • If you use “Incognito” mode in your computer, then you’re not logged in. This only pertains to users when logged in. If you aren’t logged into your account, there is no tracking or personalization.

      Aside from that, you can also turn off personalization. You’ve always had the ability to opt-out from personalization.

      • You actually can be logged in to your account in incognito mode. If you are in incognito mode and you log in to Google/Gmail, then you’re logged in. Your browser won’t store anything, but your Google account will.

        If you don’t log in, then you’re fine.

      • You actually can be logged in to your account in incognito mode. If you are in incognito mode and you log in to Google/Gmail, then you’re logged in. Your browser won’t store anything, but your Google account will.

        If you don’t log in, then you’re fine.

  2. This is an example of a mole hill turning into a mountain. Google is being extremely forthright, asking every user to please read the new policy, even sending an email about the new policy. It’s short, easy to understand, and nobody is ever forced to agree to it.

    Furthermore, Google’s ‘data liberation’ team makes it extremely easy to take your data away from Google’s services and use another service. What’s the problem here???

    They’re being a heck of a lot more transparent and honest than most others.

  3. This is an example of a mole hill turning into a mountain. Google is being extremely forthright, asking every user to please read the new policy, even sending an email about the new policy. It’s short, easy to understand, and nobody is ever forced to agree to it.

    Furthermore, Google’s ‘data liberation’ team makes it extremely easy to take your data away from Google’s services and use another service. What’s the problem here???

    They’re being a heck of a lot more transparent and honest than most others.

  4. This is an example of a mole hill turning into a mountain. Google is being extremely forthright, asking every user to please read the new policy, even sending an email about the new policy. It’s short, easy to understand, and nobody is ever forced to agree to it.

    Furthermore, Google’s ‘data liberation’ team makes it extremely easy to take your data away from Google’s services and use another service. What’s the problem here???

    They’re being a heck of a lot more transparent and honest than most others.

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