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Much ado about nothing?

Maybe I've just been suckered in but I still fail to understand the huge outcry over the Google Single Privacy Policy.

Google will not be collecting any extra data and will still not provide any personally identifiable data to third parties without explicit consent.

While there were previously over 70 separate privacy policies these did not act in isolation and already included the provision to share data between services (with a couple of exceptions such as YouTube).

Have things really changed that much?

Google is accused of pandering to the wants of advertisers rather than the needs of users but, whilst I would agree that not everything that has happened in the last year is in the needs of the user, Google is actually building on its own needs rather than those of advertisers. Google needs to improve the effectiveness of its targeting systems in order to attract more advertisers and therefore stay competitive in an increasingly difficult market.

Advertisers will always target the consumer but the internet has improved the efficiency of the targeting process. No longer do advertisers have to put out fairly generic ads based on the magazine you are reading or TV program you are watching in the hope that a sufficient percentage will react.

I don't know about you but I'm all in favour of seeing ads that are more relevant to me as an individual rather than a lot of the rubbish I have inflicted upon me.

On the Plus side

I said back in January [1] that I saw the single privacy policy as a key factor in the more widespread integration of the G+ social layer with other Google services - the three factors that I remarked were all falling in to place were:

- teens
- pseudonyms
- the single privacy policy

I believe it was no coincidence that these three were implemented/announced so close together. Because of the diversity of services and users across the Google ecosystem each of the three factors above were potential blockers to full integration.

With Plus in its arsenal Google is becoming ever more like Facebook in operation but the latter has everything contained within one walled garden. Google has many gardens and just wants to be able to play ball over the fence or, even, tear the fences down.

Please, let me know where I'm wrong.


Colin Walker's profile photoFlorian “Floffy” Rohrweck's profile photoRoy Henning's profile photoHeinz Beilhardt's profile photo
+Marcin Ciszewicz I don't think it's necessarily retribution over SOPA/PIPA/ACTA per se but that the legislative bodies feel they need to be in control.
I also don't see the new privacy policy as much of a "threat" to the privacy of users. I don't see anything that Google wasn't already doing before, only now it's centralized behing your account. It's clearly a move to strengthen the Google-Plus "social layer", but it's somewhat conflicting for users who have two accounts (or regular and Apps account), as I have wondered here as well towards the end:
I don't see how you can reconcile the 'real-name' policy with having several accounts... You can't tie them together to share information or define one master account for the others.
+George B. Moga If you are using multiple accounts for different services then, obviously, the single privacy policy is not going to affect you as there is no movement between services.

Many other Google services allow pseudonymous use so, by allowing you to use an established pseudonym on Plus, Google is taking advantage (and letting you take advantage) of the single policy without the need to set up multiple accounts or have to rationalise that pseudonym with a real name.

Most people will have a single Google account that they use across the board so I don't think Google themselves are that concerned about not being able to reconcile data from those edge cases and, if you as a user feel the need to hold multiple accounts then the obvious intention is to keep them separate anyway.
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