New Privacy Policy for Google: What exactly does it mean?

On March 1st 2012, Google’s privacy policies are changing; they’re getting rid of 70 previous hefty documents and replacing them with one, easy to read, transparent policy. We’ve all seen, possibly skimmed over, but most likely ignored the pop-ups informing us of this. So what exactly does it mean and how will things change?

We all know that Google stores personal information about our online activity; if you’re curious to see what Google thinks your interests are, try taking a look at your Ad Preferences in Google settings.

I don’t know which was more eye-opening; that my interests can be so accurately categorized, or that I spend so much time browsing for shoes.

When the new policy is introduced, the information gathered about you from each of their services will be combined to create a more personalised user experience. From the moment you log in, Google will be combining information about your searches made in YouTube with your activity on Google+. The result will be a more personalised experience, which could provide some fairly useful features in the future. From learning your common spelling errors, to letting you know if you’ll be late for a meeting, Google promises that the user experience will only get better with time. The more Google can learn about you, the better your browsing experience will be.

The new policy aims to take the ‘heavy lifting’ out of web browsing, and lighten the load for Google’s users. But if you’re not happy to have your Calendar talking to your E-mail account, then I’m afraid the only option is to stop using Google’s services. There is no opt-out, other than to go cold turkey.

Not all of Google’s services will be using this policy—Google Books, Google Chrome and Google Wallet all have separate policies for legal reasons. Which raises some interesting questions about online privacy—are you happy for your personal e-mail account and your public social media account to be housed under the same policy?

And should Google be offering a way continue using the services individually?