Google invades users’ privacy with new changes

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By By Jessica Hirsch, Online Editor-in-Chief

Google’s privacy director for products and engineering Alma Whitten announced Jan. 22 Google’s new privacy policy in the Official Google Blog, a website dedicated to explaining current Google news and events. Google is planning to condense over 60 privacy policies across its products, and it will begin tracking users’ e-mail and search history across Google, Gmail, YouTube and Android applications in order to personalize users’ web experience beginning March 1.

 
Google sent an e-mail message to all Google users, Jan. 23, which outlined the changes that will occur with the new policy, explaining its desire to create a simpler experience across Google products.

 
According to a Jan. 24 post from the Official Google Blog, when users are signed into accounts, Google can combine information the user has provided from one service with information from other services, treating people as a single user across all Google products.

 
This is an overly simplified description of the situation that does not address the new policy’s negative effects on user privacy and Internet objectivity.

 
Instead of respecting user rights and the interests of the public, Google is directly eliminating user freedoms and is not addressing privacy concerns. Users who do not want the changes have no choice. They must adopt the new privacy policy. This policy applies to people who have a YouTube, Gmail or Google+ account. People who simply use Google search results or YouTube without signing in will not be affected in the same capacity.

 

Although Google has stored user data since its beginning, data is no longer compartmentalized across applications.
Google, YouTube and Gmail users can only avoid this situation if they shut down their accounts.

 
For many, this is simply not possible. It is particularly appalling for Android phone users, who will have to log into a Google account to access data on their phones.  To prevent Google from accessing all information on Android phones, users will have to conduct a factory data reset, wiping all data, accounts, settings and applications off their phone.

 

Private details from users’ personal e-mail or phone accounts may now be revealed in a professional or other setting because the boundaries between Google products have essentially been eliminated. Any user action on one of the 60 Google products such as YouTube or Gmail can be shared between other products. The topics of a private e-mail can influence what search results Google recommends. Without barriers, users have no control over where their information ends up.

 
Search objectivity will also be compromised with the effects of the new policy.

 
When Google users now conduct searches, the most relevant hits will not be the first to come up. If a user watches a YouTube clip of a Redskins player, when that person searches “football,” Redskins-related links will be closer to the top of search results. This gives users a more limited and less objective Internet experience.

 

While data storage has been widespread as Google and other data-sharing websites like Facebook tailor ads to users’ personal tastes, the new privacy policy reaches a level that inhibits Americans’ civil liberties and sense of privacy. This policy directly contradicts Google’s supposed “Don’t be evil” philosophy of respecting users’ wishes and putting them first.

 
This new policy brings about shocking and forceful changes to the Google that users have come to know, and there is little the public can do about it.