What is Google doing?: In a nutshell, Google is taking information from almost all of your Google services — including Gmail, Picasa, YouTube and search — and integrating the data so that they can learn more about you. Google Books, Google Wallet and Google Chrome will retain their own additional policies, partly for legal reasons, but Google could still integrate data from these services.
What kind of information are they collecting and integrating?:
Google collects and can integrate almost anything that’s already in the Google ecosystem: calendar appointments, location data, search preferences, contacts, personal habits based on Gmail chatter, device information and search queries, to name a few.
Can they do that?: Well, under the company’s current privacy policies for some of its properties, Google says it can “combine the information you submit under your account with information from other Google services or third parties in order to provide you with a better experience and to improve the quality of our services.” The privacy policies for YouTube and search history, however, did not have such language. Now they do and the company has now made its ability to combine information across these and its other services more explicit.
Why is Google doing this?: Google says it will be able to do a lot more “cool things” when it combines information across products. There’s “so much more that Google can do to help you” if you share your information with them.
Give me an example.: From Whitten’s blog post: Google will be able to “provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what traffic is like that day.”
Interesting. Tell me more: Also from Whitten: Google will be able to “ensure that our spelling suggestions, even for your friends’ names, are accurate because you’ve typed them before.”
When do the changes take effect?: March 1.
Can I opt-out?: No.
So what do I do if I don’t like the policy?: You can close your account. Google has provided information on how to take all of your personal information off of Google by closing your Google Account, which would erase your Gmail, Google+ and other accounts.
But I have a lot of data saved on Gmail/Picasa/etc...: Google says it is committed to “data liberation” and that it will allow you to take your information elsewhere if you want to. The company said it would provide directions on how to do this in the help sections for its various services.
I don’t have a Google Account, but use Google search. Am I affected?: No. The new policy only applies to people who have a Google Account linked to services such as Gmail, Picasa or YouTube and are signed in.