What You Should Know About Google’s New Privacy Changes

If you haven’t heard by now, Google is making a shift toward a more transparent user experience with their applications. Much like how Facebook has cookies that keep an eye on where you go on the internet, Google is looking to read and capture your online data too. I shouldn’t say it like they haven’t been already, more like Google is being a bit more open about how they’re going to use your user data across their applications and online experience.

Lets start off with what exactly Google says about the information it collects from your system:

Google Share

Cookies – When you visit Google, we send one or more cookies to your computer or other device. We use cookies to improve the quality of our service, including for storing user preferences, improving search results and ad selection, and tracking user trends, such as how people search. Google also uses cookies in its advertising services to help advertisers and publishers serve and manage ads across the web and on Google services.

Information you provide – When you sign up for a Google Account, we ask you for personal information. We may combine the information you submit under your account with information from other Google services or third parties in order to provide you with a better experience and to improve the quality of our services. For certain services, we may give you the opportunity to opt out of combining such information. You can use the Google Dashboard to learn more about the information associated with your Account. If you are using Google services in conjunction with your Google Apps Account, Google provides such services in conjunction with or on behalf of your domain administrator. Your administrator will have access to your account information including your email. Consult your domain administrator’s privacy policy for more information.

What’s going to happen is Google is going to be a lot smarter in targeting you with ads that are way more relevant based on your browsing and search history. For example: Sending an email to a friend about some outfits you saw at H&M that were on sale will get you ads not just from H&M but other clothing companies. Or if you’re on another website (while technically still logged in to Google) and browsing some topics on politics, or web design, etc, Google will track that and show those ads to you while you’re in Gmail, Google Plus, Search, and any other place they decide to stick ads.

The privacy risk is that Google is getting to be that “all-knowing” platform. Knowing how many hours a day you spend online, what you shop for, what you type or email to friends and clients, what websites you visit most frequently. It’s like a marketers dream to have all this relevant information on a consumer. Though they may not be giving your full government name, it’s going to seem pretty personal as you start to take notice.

So what can you do? For starters disable cookies on your browsers. Your first line of defense is there. Though some websites will actually stop you from using their site when they notice your cookies are disabled. If that becomes too much of a hassle, consider using a separate browser whenever you’re using your Google applications. Then you’re general search and browsing history will be limited to separate browsers. Another tactic is to have your browser clean out your history and cookies after every session. These may all seem cumbersome and time-consuming and Google is betting on that and general lack of vigilance. The choice is yours.