The new Google privacy policy? Good or bad?

Google has just announced it will proceed to introduce a major update on its privacy policy and terms of service in an attempt to make using Google products a “beautifully simple, intuitive user experience”. It involves linking user data across its email (Gmail), video (Youtube), social-networking (Google Plus) and other services.

For example, if you spend an hour searching on Google (while you are signed in to a Google account) for the latest iPhone, the next time you log into YouTube, you might get recommendations for videos featuring the iPhone, along with ads for the iPhone and the nearest place to buy them.

These changes will  take effect on March 1, and Google will be notifying users today via email and a notice on their homepage.

How is this different from what Google was doing before?

Google has always collected this sort of information, for example, you may have noticed ads in your Gmail based on emails you had or typed. Those appear because Google scans the content of emails for things like keywords and display adverts that are relevant to them (hence you are more likely to click on them).

So this is a bad thing, right?

Yes and no. For a long time Google’s ads have been personalised to you by pulling data out of your searches. The concern is that now it will be pulling from this larger, more unified, more personal shared data pool. But there is one very important thing: you can turn it off – Just visit the Google Ads Preferences page.

You know how your contacts are currently shared across Gmail, Calendar, and Docs? It’s going to be like that, except with everything, everywhere. The fact is most people have signed up and use Youtube, Gmail, Google Docs etc  – You already trust Google with your data, this isn’t that different. At the end of the day, the only change you might notice are some search improvements and a few more targetted ads.

I personally don’t mind the latest changes from Google and people share a lot more information about themselves on Facebook. I don’t see any problem as long as 3rd parties don’t have access to any of my information without my permission.

But make up your own mind. Read the new Terms of Service yourself. Compare it with the old Terms of Service.

What do you think of these changes? Let us know below.