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Google Combines 70 Privacy Policies into One. User Data Sharing Is Part of the Mix

Google is integrating some 70 separate privacy policies it has for its various products into one policy, the company announced in this blog post. Effective March 1, it will roll out a new main privacy policy that covers the majority of its products and explains what information its collects, and how that information is used, in a—as Google explains–much more readable way.

Combining Data Too

Google is combining user data with this policy, it also explains. "In short, we'll treat you as a single user across all our products…" it said.  It gives the example of a user who searches for restaurants in Munich, and as part of the search pulls up Google+ posts or photos that people have shared with him, or that are in his albums.

Scrutiny Over Google Search

Even though Google is integrating most of its products in one continuous platform, this particular addendum about user data is bound to interest federal authorities already scrutinizing Google's search policies, especially in the wake of Google Search, Plus Your World.

It will also bother consumers—at least those that attention to such matters. 35% of Americans cite privacy concerns as their best description of the negative aspects or implications of a more technology-connected lifestyle, according to a National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and McAfee study.

Conventional wisdom is that while consumers are bothered in theory by densely written and confusing privacy policies, it doesn’t stop them from interacting online. There is a certain truth to that notion. However, there are also clear signs that privacy and data sharing are having more of an impact on a greater number of consumers.

According to an October 2011 study by LoyaltyOne, almost one in four US and Canadian consumers have decided against making an online purchase because they weren’t sure how a company would use their personal information. This figure rises to 30% among consumers who have been notified of a data breach and 37% who have been negatively affected by a data compromise.

That Google searcher looking for restaurants in Munich could just as easily be disturbed by pulling up Google+ friends or photos as delighted.

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