Google Changes Privacy Settings – No Opt Out For Consumers

  • Will track consumer usage of Google products
  • Commences March 1
  • Company interested in big picture

As of March 1 this year, Google will start tracking those who use its services in order to get a better idea of how consumers use its products. Services being followed will include e-mail, Android smartphones and YouTube.

In a recent article in the Washington Post, there are claims that the company is struggling to compete with Facebook and Apple, whose market strategy not only keeps their customers loyal, but also attracts investors and advertisers.

Privacy is one issue that the online search engine giant will have to contend with, and although it appears Google is only trying to find out what its users are doing, some countries – especially in Europe – will take exception to this new development. Already German and Swiss authorities have taken a dim view of Google’s street view application when it comes to their citizens’ privacy.

Here in Australia in 2010, the company was found to have broken the law by the Privacy Commissioner over collecting wifi data from local homes and businesses. Privacy Commissioner, Tim Pilgrim, has warned that users must carefully read new terms and conditions when a service changes them, and warns companies about their responsibilities when it comes to consumers privacy.

 “Google has advised me  it has announced a new Privacy Policy which takes effect from 1 March 2012," says Pilgrim. " It has also changed some ‘terms of service’ which will affect Australian users.  I encourage people to always read amended privacy policies or terms and conditions to understand how their information is going to be used in the future.  Organisations must abide by the National Privacy Principles when collecting, using and disclosing personal information.”

While Google claims the data collecting will be innocuous, there are those that are worried that some of their activities might become public knowledge – ie what videos they are watching on YouTube, peoples location when using their smartphone, or how secure their gmail account is from unwanted intrusion.

Google have yet to publically comment on these new settings, but going by previous instances, it will be a hard sell to many consumers and government bodies.