Google Wants to Go Steady: The New Privacy Policy and You


Lately, you may have seen a tab pop up while using your everyday Google Services: “We’re changing our privacy policy. This stuff matters. Learn more.”

Goo-oooooooooooooogle Crisp!

Indeed. The new Google Privacy Policy, taking effect on March 1st 2012, matters. To even mention how deeply Google has permeated our lives seems silly. For a whole ton of people, Google basically is the Internet. Now, while the company has only modest (relatively) market share within many of the sub categories that make up the full scope of Google Services, just the fact that all of these exist creates a pervasive, fungal, sort of presence across e-society.

Up until now, each G Service requested that new users agree to a clearly stated Terms of Service before entering—remember all those Terms? No? Me neither, bro! Nobody reads those things. It’s just generally accepted that companies aren’t binding us into contracts for our first-borns, or any overtly Satanic requirements, in order to use their services. What they do ask of us is that we allow them to sell information about us so that they can generate income. Which is fair. I’m certainly not paying them.Now, instead of each sub-Goog having separate policies, all of them will be grouped under one big legal roof.

So what will the new Privacy Policy mean to you? Well, it’ll mean that if you ever become curious about what you’ve consented to, you’ll only have to read ‘one’ (fairly giant) wad of text. In the same sense, it means a consolidation of your Internet person. You could think of it as, like, a declaration of self, vaguely. A coming of age.

Before now, the Internet knew you in a piecemeal way. It’d be, all, “Oh, you like that? Let me show you where to get more,” and then you were, all, “Dude, I hate that. I was just curious,” and then the Internet would say it was sorry, and urge you to tell it more about yourself, and you’d be, like, ‘God! You’re smothering me!’ but then y’all were back together the next day, because, by now, you just can’t live without one another. Come March 1st, it’s going to be like all of your Ex’s just got together for drinks with your current special someone, a.k.a. Google, and…well, suffice it to say that your Sexy Air of Mystery just got a lot less Airy.

The question is, are we ready to settle down with this cyber-babe? Are we prepared to give ourselves to Google TDDWP? Does that stand for till death do we part? Yes! Yes to all of it. It does. We do. Because we just have no choice. Google has been nice enough to let us opt out of any and all of their services, and, it’s easy enough: stop using them. Otherwise you can just opt out of the data-mining part, or the web-history part, or the Relevant Interest Advertising part, and it’s all right there on the GoogleDashboard that you probably didn’t know existed. Though, even if you do all of that, there are so many websites and apps grabby-handsing at your data-sandwich that, well gosh, you might as well not have packed a lunch at all.

Personally, I think Chris Davies at slashgear.com is right in saying that we don’t give a shit about our privacy. Granted, we give huge amounts of shit when our bank numbers are swiped, or we find out that Apple knows where we get lattes while we loop around our—suddenly so visibly pathetic—daily trajectories. But is it all so bad?

What Google wants to do with our information is make a ton of money. That’s reasonable. Google is a product(s), and we are consumers, and this is how that works. The how of Google is advertising. Paradise for advertisers is for every ad seen by consumers to be, not just relevant, but necessary. That’s kind of a paradise for consumers too. If, after the new Policy takes effect, a person were to use Google for everything—really. From Calendar to Wallet to Health—Google, in turn, could conceivably make life extremely convenient for that person.

Imagine a life where you don’t forget to set your alarm because your phone knows your schedule. It tells you that your normal route to work is going to make you late and suggests the best alternative. It even highlights an alternate Starbucks because you stop there every day for a your favorite drink—which—it will order for you once you get close enough so they’ll have it waiting at the bar. Or you could imagine that Google = Cyberdyne Systems and soon we’re all going to die in a brutal robo-pocalypse.

So, what? Are we ready to wear Google’s pin, or will they play us like a fool? What do you think?

Follow @44Carib on @Twitter just because!

[FOLLOW UP: This is a great article by Jon Mitchell for Read Write Web that argues “The Case for Google”]

[Article Written for and Published by NYPress.com]

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