Google sends a letter to Congress explaining the reasons for its new privacy policy

Google sends a letter to Congress explaining the reasons for its new privacy policy

Last week, Google announced its plans to consolidate its many privacy policies, reducing them to one document, effective March 1.

Many headlines were quick to go after the search giant, but as The Next Web’s Brad McCarty pointed out, there’s really nothing to worry about.

All the policy means for the average end user is that a blanket policy will be used across all Google services. In other words, it will use information from any Google services you use to deliver relevant ads no matter which service you happen to be using at the time.

While end-users have nothing significant to worry about, some concerns were raised about how this might affect Google’s Enterprise customers, particularly for those using Google Apps for Government.

While at the time Vice President of Google Enterprise Amit Singh came out immediately saying Google Apps for Government customers would not be affected as their use of Google Apps is governed by individual contracts:

Enterprise customers using Google Apps for Government, Business or Education have individual contracts that define how we handle and store their data. As always, Google will maintain our enterprise customers’ data in compliance with the confidentiality and security obligations provided to their domain. The new Privacy Policy does not change our contractual agreements, which have always superseded Google’s Privacy Policy for enterprise customers.

Today, Google has released another announcement, in which it addresses more concerns, particularly those from Congress, regarding the changes to its privacy policies. Pablo Chavez, Google’s Director of Public Policy sums up Google’s letter to Congress, explaining the reasons behind the new policy:

We hope this letter, in which we respond to the members’ questions, clears up the confusion about these changes. We’re updating our privacy policies for two reasons:
First, we’re trying to make them simpler and more understandable, which is something that lawmakers and regulators have asked technology companies to do. By folding more than 60 product-specific privacy policies into our main Google one, we’re explaining our privacy commitments to users of those products in 85% fewer words.

Second, we want to make our users’ experience seamless and easy by allowing more sharing of information among products when users are signed into their Google Accounts. In other words, we want to make more of your information available to you when you’re signed into Google services.

Google also goes to great pains to let its users know exactly what isn’t changing:

  • We’re still keeping your private information private — we’re not changing the visibility of any information you have stored with Google.
  • We’re still allowing you to do searches, watch videos on YouTube, get driving directions on Google Maps, and perform other tasks without signing into a Google Account.
  • We’re still offering you choice and control through privacy tools like Google Dashboard and Ads Preferences Manager that help you understand and manage your data.
  • We still won’t sell your personal information to advertisers.
  • We’re still offering data liberation if you’d prefer to close your Google Account and take your data elsewhere.

It has yet to be seen whether or not Google’s transparency in regards to its new policy will quieten fears and convince users that all they are getting is “a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”

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