Google tries to allay privacy fears, but users still not convinced

By Derek du Preez
30 Jan 2012 View Comments

Google has responded to a storm of criticism about changes to its privacy policy by claiming that it is simply trying to be "upfront".

Last week the internet giant made an announcement that it plans to consolidate more than 60 of its privacy policies into one main document, allowing it to unify customer data across most of its products.

Further reading

This will allow Google to combine user information from one service with data linked to other services, if that user is logged in with a Google Account.

Although it has been praised by some, such as European Commissioner Vivian Reding, who claimed that Google had been "transparent" and had outlined the changes in an "easily understandable language", others felt that Google should give users the choice to opt out of such a service.

Google's policy manager, Betsy Masiello, has since posted a blog entitled "Setting the record straight about our privacy policy changes", responding to the backlash.

Masiello said that users still have "choice and control", arguing that users have the option to simply not log into many of Google's services, if they do not want data collected about them.

"We're not collecting more data about you. Our new policy simply makes it clear that we use data to refine and improve your experience on Google – whichever products or services you use," wrote Masiello.

"We're making things simpler and we're trying to be upfront about it. Period."

However, many Google users have since commented on Masiello's blog, complaining that Google should give users the option to opt in or out of the policy.

One comment reads: "Nice corporate speak...[but] since it's all about me, why not require me to opt in to your cross-platform program? Would the reason be that few people would and your profits be reduced? Yep. So please don't tell me this change is for me. It is for your bottom line."

Another comment says: "If all you want is to help me, why not give me the option of opting out?"

The changes are set to take effect as of 1 March and users are being notified via email.

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