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New Google Privacy Policy Changes Now in Effect

V3 reporter Dan Worth
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google-services-plus-youGoogle yesterday moved forward with its planned changes to its privacy policies despite some objections from consumer groups, European regulators, and 36 U.S. attorney general concerned the changes don't conform to data protection rules.

The new privacy policy was announced in January. Google said the changes would help bring all data gathered on users from its different platforms, such as YouTube, Gmail and Blogger, into a single system, allowing the company to improve its services, such as search and serving better ads.

"Our privacy policies have always allowed us to combine information from different products with your account - effectively using your data to provide you with a better service," Google's director of privacy, product and engineering, Alma Whitten, wrote in a blog post confirming the changes have been implemented. "However, we've been restricted in our ability to combine your YouTube and Search histories with other information in your account. Our new Privacy Policy gets rid of those inconsistencies so we can make more of your information available to you when using Google."

Whitten acknowledged, though, that there has been "chatter and confusion" around the changes, and as such sought to reassure users that despite the changes, the firm's privacy controls haven't changed.

"The new policy doesn't change any existing privacy settings or how any personal information is shared outside of Google. We aren't collecting any new or additional information about users," she added. "We won't be selling your personal data. And we will continue to employ industry-leading security to keep your information safe."

Despite this, Google's decision to push through with the changes comes just two days after French data protection regulators, leading the pan-European Article 29 Working Party's investigation on the proposals, declared them unlawful and asked the company to postpones the changes.

In other developments yesterday, the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue joined in opposing Google's "unfair and unwise" policy, while Japan asked Google to handle user data carefully. One owner of an Android-powered smartphone also sued Google for a refund of £400. 

If you're freaked out about Google tracking your searches, this post will show you how to turn off web history. You can also sign out of your account at any time or not log in. Or lie.


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