| Imagine you sign up for an account on YouTube, and the next day when you go to show your kids kitten videos your YouTube page is full of links to stuff based on the “provocative,” “edgy” new TV series you looked up last night on Google. Or even videos with names related to the more … interesting things that you said to your significant other, over Gmail or Google Talk.
Well, guess what? You might not have to imagine much longer. See, Google owns YouTube, along with a ton of other websites like Gmail, Picasa and Google Docs. And it’s just announced that starting March 1, those websites are going to start talking about you behind your back. They’re going to tell each other about everything you do, and all the stuff you like. And if you have an Android phone, it may tell them all the places you visit as well.
So, wait. Which sites does this effect?
Google’s Chrome browser is also keeping its own policy, because Google “wanted to explain … in more detail” how your privacy is affected by using Chrome.
How does my Android phone fit into this?
Google Latitude. It’s an app like Foursquare, that posts your “check-ins” to Google’s servers. Plus, if you have location services enabled when you use Google Maps on your smartphone, you’re telling Google where you are anyway, which is one reason why I see search results and suggestions for someone living in my area.
But that’s good, right? That’s more useful than normal.
This is true. And if you’re concerned about the way Google’s using your data, you can flip some switches on the Google Dashboard and Ads Preferences Manager, plus use its Privacy Tools like the Incognito Mode in Chrome to keep it from detecting you. You can even check out Google’s officialData Liberation Front to pull all your personal info out of Google services, and find a new home on the web.
The problem is, most people don’t know about this stuff, even with Google being so up-front about it and the changes to its privacy policies. And while Google’s FAQ goes on about how “beautifully simple” and “intuitive” this makes Google services, most people don’t read those “intuitive” documents anyway, and just trust that the law will protect them. When what the law is actually designed to do is let Google build up a file on you, from dozens of websites at once, and use that to essentially buy its own Facebook.