Mark Zuckerberg in 2010 said, “Privacy has ceased to be a social norm…”. It was when Facebook faced thousands of critics over the privacy issues….Today its Google who is facing the brunt.

I got to know about the changes in the privacy policy of Google via an email. Since Google had taken the pains of notifying me, I had an idea that this change was an important one. I tried to forget this issue but Google kept reminding me to check these new policies whenever I made a search on Google or sent an email via Gmail or watched a video on Youtube.

So…What is this fuss all about? Would Google know a person better than his/her life partner? Would this change be bit too much revealing for a normal chap? Does this defy Google’s informal motto ‘Don’t be Evil’? I can’t answer these questions with certainity nor can most of the critics…

Google has been gathering a lot of data in the past. It claims that it won’t add any other ‘type’ of data to the exisiting bunch. So what is going to change? It is the way in which Google weaves the data. As we know that Google provides a huge bunch of services like, Search, Gmail, Youtube, Maps, Google Plus. It is planning to use the data collected via one service while providing some other services. In simple words, I would be considered as a single user across all the products once I log in.

For example, if I make a search on Google for a mobile phone. This would suggest Google that I am interested in buying a mobile phone and it would immediately be added as a ‘task’. Suppose, the next day I am wandering near the market place with my friends, and Google Maps locates some Mobile Phone shop near by, it would immediately remind me of that ‘task’.

Another example: Say, I watched a video on Youtube, let us say, it is about a hair styling product. Next time the ads placed on my Gmail page may contain information about similar products for sale.

So, would this enhance user experience? I think it would! But would this make some of us uncomfortable? Again, I think it would!

Some critics have been supporting Google and have following considerations:

  • Google won’t collect data if you are not logged in
  • Google makes life simpler, saves time and money. So the cost of having a non-intruding ad on search page or gmail page is not much. After all one doesn’t have to click on ads.
  • Since Google is a publicly traded company, its primary aim is to make profits for the shareholders. It, for obvious reasons, wants to sell ad space to businesses at higher rates.
  • Almost all the Google products have substitutes. So rather than relying on the single provider one can opt for different bunch of providers. If I don’t like it, I won’t use it.. Simple!
  • Some are happy with the fact the Google has been so transparent about these changes.

The only part that bothers me is that after March 1, all the old policies will be revoked and new ones would be in place. There is no turning back. So will people abandon Google. No way! Today communication systems have become more akin to food and water and are not considered luxury services any more. And Google has touched the life of almost every person in the planet in some or the other way. Taking it out of our lives doesn’t seem to be an option at all….!

Advertisements