Have You Blown Off Google’s New Privacy Policy?

Google Privacy Policy As some of you already know, I was planning to blog about my site’s new theme and why I updated it, but I felt this topic was more important.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Google’s new privacy policy that will go into effect March 1, 2012.

There’s been a lot of chatter about this on the Web over the past three weeks, so I’ve been sitting back absorbing all the info.

Like many people, you may have ignored the updated policy notice and/or clicked “Dismiss” because who wants to read all that fine print, right?

Besides, you aren’t doing anything illegal or unethical online, so what’s the big deal? They’re just creating one policy that covers all their services.  What’s the harm?

But, that’s just it.

Google knows you won’t read it clearly, and even if you do, you’ll probably get tripped up on the legal speak (blah, blah, blah…. Neeeext!)

So What’s New?

In a recent YouTube video, Google described the updated policy as one beautifully, simple experience.  The presentation was quite rosey and appeared as if Google is doing us all a great service as they simplify their privacy policy.

So what does it all mean?

Starting on March 1st, when you use any of Google’s services (Calendar, Gmail, Search, Groups, etc.) they will collect and store that information to serve you with better advertising, search results, etc.

Doesn’t sound like a huge deal, right? Isn’t that how Google has been operating anyway?

For things like search and web browsing, yes, that is how it works today.  But on March 1st, that policy allows Google to collect and combine the data across all 60 Google services to better target ads and “improve your experience.”

The problem is not so much about Google wanting to personalize your experience.  The bigger problem is the privacy issue should hackers or the wrong people get a hold of this information.

Let’s say you’re doing a research paper on fighting child pornography and you do a Google search to collect some information.  Maybe you even watch a few YouTube videos about people speaking out against it and send a couple of emails on the subject.

Now there is an online paper trail of you performing searches, watching videos and sending emails on child pornography that could be used against you should that data get into the wrong hands.

Now I realize this is a very extreme example, but I’m just providing one of the worst case scenarios for illustration purposes.

No Big Deal. I Can Just Opt Out, Right?

Yes, you actually can opt out and it’s very easy to do.  Just log out of Google.

Problem solved, right?

For some maybe, but not for those who rely on a variety of Google services.  Logging out is just not an option for many people.

That’s what bugs me the most.  You either opt out and stop using all of Google’s services, or login and be forced to share everything you do. There’s no way to use their services and opt out.

Of course, the reason Google did not give us that option is because they know everyone would do just that — thus defeating the whole purpose and agenda of the new policy.

Stay Informed

This post is not about trying to turn you away from Google.  I’m simply educating you on what the new policy means since you may have missed the fine print.

You have the right to be properly informed and make decisions that are appropriate for yourself and your business.

Some people have dropped Google’s products altogether, while others have decided to ride with the new policy changes.

Nevertheless, I feel a sense of responsibility to educate since so many of you use multiple Google products these days.  Even if you’re OK with the new policy and plan to do nothing, you should at least understand and be aware of it.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a lawsuit against the FTC last Wednesday stating that Google’s new policy is a “clear violation.” However, Google insists they are not violating their user’s privacy and does not intend to change how personal information is shared outside of Google.  You can read more here.

March 1st is fast approaching, so please share this with your followers and make sure they know what they are “accepting” when the new policy takes effect.

And if you agree that Google should allow you to opt out of their services upon logging in, please sign this petition. I did.


So will this new policy change how you use Google and their services?  Are people blowing this all out of proportion? Please share your thoughts.

Name: Email:


  1. lisaloversince2009 says

    hi lisa
    i am so angry at google. sorry i have poor english. the bad side include no keyword research using google after one year or so….. because google says that they are going to keep the performed searches private! thanks for educating your followers. thumbs up!!!! may be we should protest against it and make it diseappear like sopa.
    bye thanks

    • says

      Good question, Janice. I would think that since the changes are more about using Google services on their own sites we shouldn’t need to change our policies. But if I hear otherwise I will let you guys know, for sure.

  2. says

    I was one of the people that put off reading Google’s privacy policy, but I eventually did read it.

    The one thing I don’t understand is why online companies don’t provide options for individuals. As users of their service, Google should provide some method of allowing us to determine what information we wish Google to collect from us. Let’s face it, with their free tools, Google could potentially have a lot of information about us.

    BTW, I like your new theme. I have use a WooTheme myself on another blog and found the support and ease-of-use to be great.

    • says

      I agree, Paul. And it all makes sense now why they force you to use a real name on Google Plus instead of a site name. It’s all a part of them building online profiles for their users.

      Thanks for the compliment. So far I’m really liking Woo Themes. I do miss a few things about Thesis but I like the cleanliness of this design much better.

  3. says

    I did read the policy and realized that there’s really nothing I can do unless I want to totally check out. Google’s doing this because of government regulations, and Facebook won’t be far behind. It’s a very smart policy on their part because they’re saying something I’ve often said, that being no one has to use their service or be a part of it.

    Not that I totally like it, but I understand it. The day I bought my HTC phone they created a Gmail address for me and suddenly I had Gmail. They started connecting people with me that I hadn’t thought about just because I might have written a comment on their blog some time ago or said something to them on G+. As for search, true, I can log out, but I search looking at 50 entries at a time; do I really want to alter that every time I come back to Google? And am I willing to give up Adsense, my best consistent revenue stream, over this particular principle?

    Not sure, but for now, it is what it is.

  4. says

    Yes I did not think like you did, now I am scared of all that good new change … well I guess I will have to remember this articles till google change it policy again hahaha thanks for the great info lisa

    • says

      I don’t think they can legally do anything to any date prior to March 1st. At least that is my understanding. Also that information is stored on your browser, not Google.

      • says

        No no, Lisa – if I’m signed into gmail and I perform Google searches from another window at my friend’s house in New York City I see the same “previous” searches i performed at my place, more than 100 miles away… those searches are on a cloud, I tell ya!

        PS – and why did you leave my mis-spelled comment online instead of using the corrected comment? (I thought I caught the mis-spelled one but I guess it escaped into the digital jungle!)

        • says

          I thought it was a duplicate comment. I didn’t catch the misspelling. Will update.

          Oh you are talking about Google Instant! Yes, well nevertheless I wouldn’t worry about deleting anything prior to Mar 1.

  5. says

    Guess what…I didn’t read it. I am thinking like “They will find a way to do it anyway”. But I did notice that Facebook is pulling every single word you post to target ads since recently. Before, seems that ads were targeted by my likes but the other day, I started getting ads based on literally one word I wrote in a comment on someone’s post. There is nothing else that could have pulled it but it was 100% related to what I was talking about in that comment.

    I will sign the petition but not sure if we can do anything about Google… :(

    Love the theme! Seems everything looks better than Thesis these days…

    • says

      Yeah, Facebook and Google are in a definite war with regards to collecting/targeting information. I don’t think anything is going to be done before March 1st either but I wanted to do my small part. :) At least let us opt out Google!

      Thanks! Yes, I’m pretty happy with the choice thus far. Cleaner is definitely better.

  6. says

    Hi Lisa
    Thank you for the update on Googles new Privacy Policy. I must admit that I did not read it all because it was very long and in a lawyer language that I can’t stand to read. It is a bit sad that Google are going to have that much power over people. Maybe we should be starting to do our search on Bing instead ;-)

  7. says

    Hey Thomas, actually a lot of people have switched to Bing because of this. I was reading over on the SiteSell fan page and a number of people have ditched Google search.

  8. says

    Hey Lisa,

    Thanks for sharing!

    I am one of those people, who didn’t read the new Privacy Notice. I had better stop being lazy and read the fine print.

    Take care,


  9. says

    Thank you Lisa for summerizing it. Honestly, I did not read it, it sounded just too much blablabla. You’ve helped me to understand it better and I ended up signing it :)Hope it will matter!

  10. Rick says

    Whoa, your new site design is nice, clean, and professional.

    I do realize that you might comment on why the change since you implied so – more or less – early in the post.

    Still, I’d like to know what happened to “…I’m in LOVE with Thesis!” just a short while ago.

    So, I do hope you will create a post about why you ditched your beloved Thesis in so short a time. You’re the one that convinced me to buy it (developer’s option at that).

    If you do create the said post, will you please explain the shortcomings of Thesis as well as the advantages of the new theme over Thesis?

    Thank you in advance,

    • says

      yes I agree rick, looking forward to hearing lisas new post about swopping themes however I must admit there are some lovely clean sleek themes, which I cant seem to get with thesis.
      Lisa would love to hear of any other new themes you considered before finally choosing woo themes.

  11. says

    Thanks for the heads up Lisa! :) Thank you for sharing Lisa!
    Oh and I like your new theme! But feels weird the side bar changed sides, is left side sidebar acutally better?

  12. says

    I’m slowly becoming less of a fan for Google and their domination of the internet. CAn’t hate on them for being a business but it just seems that we have become too dependent on their services.

    I got into it with a guy who, from the outside looking in, you would think he was getting a paycheck from Google, the way he protected them and said our info is safe in their hands..

    I feel you Lisa.. No it’s not scaring me but I am aware.. Im switching all my emails over to my own servers soon.. Much sooner than later now. Create an email for all affiliate stuff and so on.

    I’m going to distance myself from Google. I also have this darn Android phone.. I’m going back to blackberry..

    I always sign out of Google while im in YouTube though..I think my next move will be to block YouTube from storing cookies if I can..

    Great post though.. Wake the people up..

    • says

      Yeah on one hand you understand they are a business and certainly have the right to compete and dominate. But it just seems they are starting to get out of hand.

  13. says

    thanks for breaking it down, your right. nobody wants to read the fine print. I know I didn’t. I wish somedays i could just sign out of google. Almost impossible, I’m so deep entwined we’ll never be able to separate.

  14. says

    Hey Lisa,
    Thanks for the informative post about what’s going on. Rather depressing since I’ve just joined the “social” community using G+. I doubt that I’ll be using it any more once March 1st rolls around. I think that would be the biggest thing we could do to them as a group to let them know where they screwed up, just stop using their products…

    Just to keep things clean, I’m going to switch browsers and just use Chrome when I need to check site stats on Analytics. Since I don’t like what FireFox does to my computer, and IE really stinks, it looks like Safari will be my only option.

  15. says

    Hmmm, dilemma. When I read the policy to be honest it did not bother me, and I do not think it will either.

    As to stop using google products, just can’t do that, as in Google+ has just been too good to me. Facebook and the rest will follow, they are greedy businesses and that is that, for now, I am not to pushed with panic.

  16. says

    I think Google is misusing the powers it has !
    Google is totally wrong on this one !
    Storing so much of info about people at one place is just so dangerous !!
    It can cause so much damage if it gets into wrong hands.
    Might be something like we saw in the movie “Die Hard 4.0″.
    This is so terrible from Google.

  17. says

    This sure is informative Lisa!

    I fall into the category of all those who knew this was around, but never really bothered to read the fine print. I am glad you put up this post to educate all of us about it!

    I guess logging out of Google would not solve the problem or would it? Or may be we would need to be careful about the sites or links we open – or wold there be some other better option to remain clear of all this?

    Thanks for sharing :)

    • says

      Hi Harleena,

      You could log out, but you wouldn’t be able to use any of Google’s services. That’s exactly why this is all tricky and Google knows most people are too invested in their tools.

      It’s not just about the links you open. It’s about Google having access to every email you send via GMail, and all data within any Google tools and storing it/using it for advertising.

      So essentially, if you’re using Google tools your data/information is constantly being tracked and used.

  18. says

    To be honest I have kept my use of Google services always to the absolute minimum as I have never felt comfortable with them (or any internet site) being able to see what I get up to. And whilst it probably won’t change how I use Google in the immediate future it has made me consider whether I need to start exploring other options for the services I do use.

    Out of interest there was an article on internet advertising in a UK paper a couple of weeks ago about sites such as Google having to offer a way to opt out of targetted ads by placing an icon on the ads. Are you aware of it, here’s the link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2094756/Net-closes-cookies-Targeted-online-ads-exposed-new-form-regulation.html

  19. says

    I heavily rely on google for a wide range of services for several of my businesses so I don’t know what to do. I have considered the options and at the moment I will just have to live with it. I have feeling this behavior could eventually start to backfire on them but for now I don’t think much will change.

  20. says

    As long as Big G continues to be a leader in searches – I don’t think it’s a good idea to just blow off anything they put out. Google tends to be unforgiving when it comes to breaking their rules.

  21. says

    It is quite uncomfortable knowing that Google will be able to have this much information on you. Whether or not the info could be used against you, I think it’s quite a privacy issue for many.

    I never really expected Google to go in this direction.

  22. says

    If Google is still going ahead with its privacy policy, then it only indicates that users don’t really care. Else it must evoke the kinda response that SPOA did.

  23. says

    you are a genius,great subject for a blog.
    You are a brave lady by going against the giant of the internet.
    After watching the video shown in the petition link,reading the comments left by some of your readers and finding 9 Google adverts where the news about Watchdog sues FTC over new Google privacy policy i think we have not chance whatsoever with that petition.
    above video explain what they are all about.
    Most likely you will see some adverts while watching the video.

  24. says

    Perhaps its time to resort to good ole fashion library searches for items you do not want tracked on google. :-) Frankly, I did not read the new policy in its entirety, but I read enough to know tracking of personal information and data was coming down the pipeline. However, it is the internet. One way or the other you are being tracked… all the more reason to cease putting so much personal data “in the clouds”. We have become so comfortable with storing everything “online” for convenience and ease of use forgetting about more practical things such as privacy, safety and personal rights. FaceBook has introduced this new timeline, dairy-like feature. Well aren’t diaries supposed to be personal to you and whomever you CHOOSE. FB also introduced a “subscriber” feature so anyone can subscribe to you EVEN IF you do not want them as your friend if you elect to turn on this feature.

    Bottomline, it is up to us to protect ourselves. Privacy and freedoms are diminishing right before our eyes. As long as we value convenience and ease of use over our own privacy, safety and personal rights these things will continue to happen on a larger scale.

    Bottom line, take you personal life offline and maintain personal data as it related to your business on your own servers and not in the “clouds”. Technology can become a monster and we are allowing it to happen. Google is not big without its users.

    • says

      I completely agree with you. While I think it’s rather sneaky of Google to do this, all our information is tracked regardless. Your ISP has your data, every server you have touched has your data, your router has your data. There’s no escaping online tracking unless you don’t use it period.

  25. Name (required) says

    I think a petition does Very Little no matter how many signatures. If you’re unhappy about what they do with your information and how they market it you would have to stop using Google. No more Chrome, Youtube, Gmail etc oh and Adsense. :) Many times its just easier to whine and gripe about something because its human nature.

    • says

      This post is not about whining and griping. It’s about creating awareness to people who may not have read the policy so they are aware what is happening with their data. As for the petition, it may not work — but nothing wrong with standing up for something you believe in and creating awareness.

  26. says

    Hey Lisa,

    I am so glad I stopped by! I had no idea. I was the dismiss kind of person who just accepted everything and moved on. You know, I am a psychologist and have to do keep researching on topics which might be otherwise a little “controversial”. And why does Google have to keep a watch on us? Is there some hidden agenda we are not noticing?

  27. says

    It seems as if Google has used a rather sneaky method of rolling this out, Thanks for clarifying in detail what exactly this policy changed entailed, as i am sure many people are unaware of how many different Google platforms are affected by this. Great post, thanks for the info!

  28. says

    Thanks for the great info Lisa…I did sign the petition, FYI.

    I refuse to let Google become big brother.
    They are underhanded and I for one—do not trust them—If I have to I will leave Google behind.

    If you give them an inch they will take a mile.

    NO NO NO…do not let Google become the only monopoly in the world.

    ~The Baby Boomer Queen~

  29. says

    While it’s good to be always informed of changes, the way I see it, this kind of things are to be expected. It’s a “free” service so there has to be a catch. Besides, is there really such a thing as online privacy nowadays what with Facebook and all other networking sites?

  30. says

    Really, this is very big deal for our security and personality. thank you very much to educated us about Google’s privacy police. Google should give clarification about this matter. but i think Google also would have thought about it. Google will responsible for this. There is any idea to escape Google tracking. Please suggest me


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