Deep privacy concerns raised over Google’s new policy

Google+On March 1st, 2012, Google adopted a new worldwide privacy policy. It was, unfortunately, for the worse; this policy enhances user tracking to provide better ads. This change also raised an international concern, especially in Europe, where Justice Commissioner Viviane Redding stated that it violates EU law. In the meantime, France’s CNIL has started an analysis, and has revealed important flaws in the policy.

There are huge chances you own a Google account, and that these changes affect you. According to a comScore study, an average user spends less than 3,5 minutes per month on Google+. However, since the social network started in July 2011, new Google accounts include a Google+ profile. So why would Google create a profile for each new user, even though they don’t use it? As this article points out, the social network is only used for ad targeting. It gathers your biographical data and enhances the ads proposed to you while searching on Google.

While the changes to the Google privacy policy may be reverted because of the officials’ pressure, it is important to stay safe for now. There are a few simple way to strengthen your privacy on your Google account; you should do all of these:

1. Delete your Google+ profile.

In order to do this, you should log in to your account and click on your name; this will lead you to the “Account overview” tab. Then browse to your “Account settings”, and, at the bottom of the page, click on “Delete profile and remove associated Google+ features”.

Delete

It might happen that after you’ve done this, your Google+ profile is still up and running, even though it should contain no data. Back on the account overview tab, click on “Profile settings”, then scroll to the bottom of the page, hit “Delete your profile” and confirm.

Your Google+ profile is now deleted.

2. Clear your Google Web History

Log in to your Google account, and go to the Google Web History page. Click on “Remove all Web History”. Note that this will also pause this feature, and thus stop the tracking based on search terms.

3. Install privacy addons for your browser.

If you use Firefox, Chrome or any other browser which supports addons, it is a great idea to install a few ones which can block the tracking. They will not only work for Google, but for other tracking services.

For Chrome: a nice addon is Disconnect. Get it at: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/jeoacafpbcihiomhlakheieifhpjdfeo

For Firefox: use Ghostery. It has nicely improved since it was released; it does an excellent job finding out which ad services are on the page you’re browsing, and it blocks them efficiently. Download it here: https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/addon/ghostery/

Last but not least, use your common sense. Keep off invading services/networks (especially, but not limited to, Facebook), and don’t fall for every “cool” feature that will supposedly enhance your browsing — but only really tracks you.

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"Knowledge is power. Information is liberating." - Kofi Annan. I love messing with stuff. The result's always awesome!

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Posted in Internet, Privacy
One comment on “Deep privacy concerns raised over Google’s new policy

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