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According to Alma Whitten, director of privacy, product and engineering at Google, the changes are meant to combine all users’ personal information in a faster, more efficient way than ever before.
“In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience,” said Whitten.
Originally, the company had 60 privacy policies for its various services. But within the next month, Google hopes to combine its policies into one that is shorter and more understandable to the typical Google user.
However, the policy has not been received positively among major organizations. The European Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center have both made it clear that they will not take this news sitting down. Critics argue that the new policy, while making the process more accessible and user-friendly, may threaten privacy by sharing personalized data among the network. Organizations such as the European Union have already submitted complaints to the company over antitrust allegations.
“We wish to check the possible consequences for the protection of the personal data of these citizens in a coordinated procedure,” said Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the EU Article 29 Working Party in a letter to Google.
The EU, along with other organizations, is expressing concern that user privacy will gradually become a thing of the past.
In addition to combining user information, the company will also include Google + results in its search queries. This gives essentially anyone with access to a computer the ability to stumble upon Google + profiles by use of a search engine. This action has been viewed as controversial by many, mainly seen as an invasion of privacy. Upon hearing of this, the Electronic Privacy Information Center has asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission about possible violations posed by this change.
Others, on the other hand, feel the new changes will not cause a significant difference.
“People are just looking at the negative side of it and forgetting the fact that these policies are designed to aid users, not harm them,” said fourth-year economics major Sean Edwards.
“Once the policies are implemented, I think people will realize their privacy remains intact,” said second-year sociology major Tracy Wu.