The Day Has Come

2 03 2012

It is here. There is no turning back. You cannot hide. Get used to it. Or retreat to a self-imposed Google exile.

Good luck with that.

Today is the day that Google’s new privacy policy go into effect. It has been talked about, debated, feared, and otherwise put through great amounts of hand-wringing. People are upset, but then again, they always do whenever their online privacy is at stake.

Google was even nice enough to consolidate about 70 different policies into one handy document so that we have a better chance of understanding it. Of course, no one ever reads those Terms of Service agreements anyway, so it is rather a moot point. A nice PR-positive moot point, but moot nonetheless. what’s really happening is that Google has now allowed its various services to talk across platforms, whereas prior to today they tended to be self-contained little accumulations of usage history.

And while today is technically the big debut, the policy began leaking out a couple of weeks ago. I noticed that, if I was logged in to my Gmail account, when I went to YouTube it would suggest videos posted my some of my Google+ friends. To be honest, I was creeped out the first few times it happened.

But this is really only the beginning. because nearly everyone on the planet with a computer or smartphone has a Google account of some kind, it basically means that our lives are now completely open books to Google. It can now access our search histories and match them to our emails, our video searches and views, even our pictures on Picasa.

So don’t be surprised if you start seeing more highly targeted advertising in one arena based on what you did in others.

Privacy fearmongers worry that our personal information could easily be breached, as well as used for exploitative commercial gain. But guess what? We have never paid a single nickel for any of Google’s services. And this just in: Google is really in the advertising business.

Not search. Not email. Not document storage. Not videos. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

And the more ads they can sell, and the more they can sell them with frightening accuracy, the more money they stand to make.

So what’s a frightened user to do? Well, for the most part, just suck it up. Sure, you can drill down through your account to delete your web and video searches, and you could use one service (e.g., YouTube) without also logging in to your Gmail first. But guess what? Google also tracks your IP address, so it will still know you.

Aside from simply shunning all Google services, we don’t have a whole lot of options. Sure, we could search at Stealth, but I am not convinced they will be around forever with their business model.

More realistically, just be careful what your searching for, don’t watch any questionable videos, and keep your email clean.

Because Google is watching you. And it wants to help someone sell you something.

Dr “D-Day” Gerlich



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