need-to-know-googles-latest-privacy-policy-update

Big news: if you’re one of the over one billion Gmail users, the erosion of your privacy just became more pronounced. Or the “opportunity for personalized marketing” just increased in depth. Either way ads are becoming increasingly targeted, and now your Gmail data is now being cross-referenced with DoubleClick – a Google-owned tracking company that works with Coca-Cola, Apple, Microsoft, and Visa. This gives Google the ability to use your information to create extremely targeted, personalized ads to potential consumers by using tracking technology extant in nearly half of the world’s top 1 million websites.

When Google purchased DoubleClick in 2007, Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder stated: “It has been our vision to make Internet advertising better – less intrusive, more effective, and more useful. Together with DoubleClick, Google will make the Internet more efficient for end users, advertisers, and publishers”.

Google and DoubleClick were then forced to hold hearings by the U.S. Senate’s Antitrust Committee – other companies were worried that this merger would cause an issue. Nine years ago Google was adamant in showing that they were working hard to protect the privacy of users. Now, they’ve quite literally crossed out the part of their privacy policy where they mention that they won’t combine Google and DoubleClick’s data.

Google-TOS-Modification

Let’s ignore the ethical implications to understand what this means. It appears that new Google accounts will now automatically be opted-in to having their data subject to this new privacy policy change. Older users have had to already opt-in to the change over this past Summer (but honestly who reads, or understands most user agreements?).

Google could feasibly already profile any person using their services, not just by Google search history, but by email context, and location information from Google Maps. This information will now be merged with DoubleClick’s website data, providing dimensions for greater targeting and personalization capability.

Can I Opt-Out?

Knowing this, there are ways to opt-out if one is so inclined. The process is extremely easy and only takes a minute or two.

First, head over to Activity Controls under your Google account page. Just clicking our link will be easier than finding it yourself. Once you’re here, click on the blue box that’s checked under your “Web & App Activity” like so:

Opt-Out-Data-Collection-GOOGLE

Just be sure that you’re alright sacrificing what you see below to no longer have your web and app activity tracked by Google.

GOOGLE-TOS-Update

Once you’re done with this process feel free to scroll down further on the activity controls page to assess what else Google is tracking. Things like your location history, voice and audio activity, and Youtube history are all being monitored and from which you can easily opt out.

If you’d like to avoid Google’s search engine completely, be sure to check out some alternatives like DuckDuckGo or the Brave web browser. However, there are always pros and cons to this sharing, and often the perspective is skewed toward invasion of privacy. I personally chose to allow it all – because I find it better to see messaging which appeals to me, rather than random advertisements.

If you’re going along for the ride anyway, you might as well enjoy it.