Google’s New Privacy Policy: How Much Of User’s Rights Is Being Violated?

For some time now, there has been an outcry because of the new changes Google is about to implement its privacy policy. The new policy, which will become effective November 11 2013, will give Google the right to use your name, photo and recommendations on adverts. Google calls this one shared endorsement.

Of course, this is not the first time Google is making changes to its privacy policy but considering the extent of what this entails many are saying, this is a direct violation of user’s privacy.

But what really does this change mean, how will it affect you as a user and what can you do about it?

The New Google Privacy Policy Explained

One thing that Google has actually done before the new policy comes into effect is that they have provided very clear explanations – why they are doing it, how it affects you and what you can do if you are not okay with it. You can read the whole thing here.

In a nutshell, here’s what Google is aiming to do with the new policy:

When the new policy come into effect starting November 11, 2013, you’ll be giving Google the right to use your Google+ profile pictures, name, and endorsements on adverts. For example, if you have a profile on Google+ (and I’m sure you do) and you’ve +1 (that is, rated or recommended a product or service using the platform), if it turns out that the company that produces or markets that product or service wants to advertise on Google, once the company purchase an advert, your photo would now appear on the advert as recommending the product!

Google new shared endorsement - how it affects users' privacy

Creepy? Wise thinking?

Well, it all depends on which divide you stand.

But while many are crying foul and demanding that something be done before this come to light, Google however thinks this is something you should cherish :). Hear what Google has to say,

“We want to give you — and your friends and connections — the most useful information. Recommendations from people you know can really help. So your friends, family, and others may see your Profile name and photo, and content like the reviews you share or the ads you +1’d. This only happens when you take an action (things like +1’ing, commenting, or following) — and the only people who see it are the people you’ve chosen to share that content with. On Google, you’re in control of what you share. This update to our Terms of Service doesn’t change in any way who you’ve shared things with in the past or your ability to control who you want to share things with in the future.”

Of course, Google was not forth coming as to the advertising profits this new change will put in their pockets but we do know and that is why many are complaining.

How Does This Violate Users’ Rights?

This new change is something that many of us who use various Google products and services across the internet should really be concerned about. As Dr. Deborah C. Peel, a psychoanalyst and founder of Patient Privacy Rights, an advocacy group puts it:

“People expect when they give information, it’s for a single use, the obvious one. That’s why the widening of something you place online makes people unhappy. It feels to them like a breach, a boundary violation.”

And indeed, this is definitely a boundary violation. It is clear that when people joined these social media sites they never had the mind of being used for marketing purposes like this cheap advertising that Google wants to use all of us for!

Is Google Biting More Than It Can Chew?

Beyond the on-going debate whether this is a violation of users’ rights, a US senator, Sen. Edward Markey believes that Google is actually reneging on an earlier agreement that has to do with the company’s 2011 privacy settlement with the FTC over its now-defunct Buzz service.

In a letter seeking for clarifications, Sen. Edward Markey wrote:

“In addition to being an opt-out mechanism, Google’s announced privacy changes come over two years after the company reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. In that matter, the Commission had alleged that Google used deceptive tactics and violated its own privacy promises to consumers when Google Buzz was launched in 2010. Google and the FTC agreed on a settlement that bars the company from future privacy misrepresentations; requires Google to implement a comprehensive privacy policy; and initiates regular, independent privacy audits of the company for the next two decades.”

“This shift in Google’s policy raises a number of important questions about whether Google is altering its privacy policy in a manner inconsistent with its consent agreement with the Commission and, if the changes go into effect, the degree to which users’ identities, words, and opinions could be shared across the Web.”

Recommended: Federal Trade Commission (FTC) & Disclosure Policies: What You Should Really Know!

From all indication right now the stand of the FTC on this issue will determine to a great extent what will become of the new Google privacy policy.

As most of us do know what we say or do really does not matter as Google and its like are more after the profits. And so, while we await the FTC response to Sen. Edward Markey’s letter, you can do what is necessary for now; opt out if you don’t want Google showing your photos for it’s product endorsements (I’ve just done that!).

Let’s have your say: is Google violating user’s privacy by this new policy? Would you opt out or, stop using Google products and services altogether because of this new policy?

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