You may or may not have heard about the privacy changes Google announced yesterday. In a nutshell, it is going to be able to collect more information on you than you ever thought was possible. The goal with these changes, according to Google, is to streamline your Google experience so that it is completely personalized according to your needs, interests, etc. It sounds great in theory, but it’s how they are doing it that has many concerned. Do you have a Gmail account? What about Google +? Do you open or make changes to documents using Google Docs? Do you use YouTube to watch videos? All these are Google products and if you are logged in to them at any time, Google is able to gather information about you and use this information to personalize your Google experience. For example, let’s say you are making changes to a document on Google Docs and you misspell someone’s name in the document. If you have had correspondence with this person via Gmail, Google will recognize the name and correct it for you.
As with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages to these changes. On the positive side, some of the changes, such as the one mentioned above, may prove helpful. Your search results will be modified to give you better, more accurate information. And the biggest advantage for Google and those that use its pay-per-click services is that the ads will be able to target a more specific audience that needs to see the message the most. For Google, this will mean a very large increase in ad revenue, which is really the bottom line here. However, many feel these changes are an invasion of their privacy. Unfortunately, many of these same people are logged into to their Google accounts at all times and don’t even know it.
Now there is no way to completely hide from Google, but there are ways to combat the amount of information and the type of information it receives about you. First, you can make sure you are logged out of all your Google accounts such as Gmail, YouTube, Google+, etc. That will ensure that you are only being found by your computer’s IP address and not your actual name/account information. The next step might be to clear your Google web history so that Google can’t see what you searched for 6 months ago. Interested to know what Google knows about you? You can view here: www.google.com/dashboard, using a login of course. This link will also give you the option to delete your history among other privacy customization options.
It will be interesting to see if these changes hold up, as several privacy rights groups are taking their complaints to the FTC. Until then, it’s important that you know your online rights. We hope this helped.