Google is to consolidate and simplify over 70 privacy documents covering its different products into a single...
Google Books, Wallet and Chrome will retain their own policies because they are regulated by industry-specific privacy laws or require more detail.
The move, accompanied by a re-write and consolidation of Google’s terms of service, aims to comply with calls by regulators around the world for shorter, simpler privacy policies.
For example, this will enable Google searches to consider that a user is interested in cars and would want "Jaguar" the car rather than the animal of the same name.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) expressed concern that the changes could erode user privacy and lower privacy standards.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said Google’s disclosure – that it will track what users do across all Google-owned services – comes across more like a confession than a bold new move.
USA Today quotes EEF technology projects director Peter Eckersley pointing out that Google has always effectively kept linkable records of activity on Gmail, Search, Maps and Market for Android, and other services.
“Only very sophisticated users have ever been able to remove any of that linkability, and that remains the case today,” Eckersley said.
Google’s re-write of its privacy policies comes within months of reaching a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission for misrepresenting how it used personal information and for sharing a user's data without approval.