Google's Privacy Policy Change - What you should know

Google has gradually become a major part in our lives. Most of us use it every day to find answers, research products, and determine what Metro Detroit restaurants are open on a Sunday night.  Google is on our phones, we watch videos on YouTube, and we get from point A to point B with Google maps. So what does Google know about us?

Well, the answer, at least for a lot of people, is practically everything. Google knows what we search for, Google custom tailors the ads it gives us based on conversations in our email, and processes an absurd amount of data for us and about us each and every day. It's all done autonomously, by intelligent algorithms that track metrics and try to shape Google's services to be as accurate and personalized as possible.

Granted, this all sounds like the beginnings of a very excellent science fiction movie where the machines become self-aware, only in this one they know where we live, who might have the flu, and how often the world searches for Justin Beiber.  All hail our mighty all-knowing robot overlords?

At the end of the day, Google's prime objectives lie somewhere between innovation and privacy but to many there is a lot of gray area. Google works very hard at trying to point out the innovation side of the argument but they get a lot of heat (as any online service typically does) when there is a change, especially concerning privacy. Let's look at the changes being made.

Google wants explicit rights to "combine personal information" amongst their many products and services. In the previous privacy policy they had implicit rights to combine data between multiple Google services.

Google claims that this will provide a more intuitive experience that continues to personalize Google for each individual user. According to a video Google posted, "It may even be able to tell you when you'll be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and local weather conditions." Check out the video here.

This makes your Google account more useful, and it's not something completely new; Google has been linking their core services together for quite some time, and has been working very hard at customizing search results for individual users. Of course, it's all automated; there aren't sprawling cubical farms as far as the eye can see of workers who know you look up on the Internet. Google takes privacy very seriously, they simply want to provide more for the end-user with the private data they collect. Above all else, Google won't do something that is bad for Google - they strive on providing the best user experience possible.

You can check out the new privacy policy here, and let us know how you feel about it. Twenty years from now will we regret giving all of our personal information to the great and mighty Google, or will it simply improve their services? Leave a comment!

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Joshua Van Berkum is passionate about embracing the positive change that technology brings to small businesses. Having been in the "technology trenches" for years, as well as owning his own business for 15 years, Joshua is equipped with the patience and know-how that it takes to make technology decisions carefully and implement proper plans quickly. Still learning and always adapting, Joshua is continually striving to grow his customers' businesses through innovation, while ensuring his client's return on their technology investment.

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Guest Friday, 01 August 2014