Terry Corbell, The Biz Coach
By Terry Corbell
Business Consultant

Should Google’s Privacy Policy Worry You?


Updated March 15, 2015

Despite much brouhaha, the new Google privacy policy has been in effect now for three years. Public officials around the globe raised concerns – including European Union regulators, the Japanese government and state attorneys general in the U.S.

Should it frighten you? It depends on your perspective. Fear is an option, of course. But should the policy panic you? Well, let’s take a look at the issue.

In essence, Google has been consolidating all of its privacy policies for its myriad of products into one policy. To summarize, the search engine is sharing user information internally – your habits on Google – among its various products and services to maximize revenue.

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For example, if you watch videos on YouTube, your selection of videos will determine which advertisements you’ll see when searching Google.

Google will not share your information with any other companies.

My sense is that the privacy policy shouldn’t be a surprise to businesspeople for three reasons:

  1. Google is a giant in online advertising. (Disclosure: This Biz Coach portal uses Google’s AdSense for display ads on many of the pages.)
  2. Google is a leader in relevance. It was the first search engine to use algorithms – in part, to screen out frivolous Web sites – so users have been able to get the most germane results for their tastes and needs.
  3. Google is only following a practice that every major company is already using.

“As you use our products one thing will be clear: it’s the same Google experience that you’re used to, with the same controls,” wrote Alma Whitten, who is Google’s Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering.

“And because we’re making these changes, over time we’ll be able to improve our products in ways that help our users get the most from the web,” Ms. Whitten wrote in her blog.

Her three main points:

  1. Our Privacy Policy is now much easier to understand.
  2. Our Privacy Policy will enable us to build a better, more intuitive user experience across Google for signed-in users.
  3. Our privacy controls aren’t changing.

Google explains how you can turn off your search results – here’s an excerpt:

If you turn off personal results and stay signed in to your Google Account, you won’t see results personalized based on your Google+ circles (or suggested connections), Google products, or your search history.”

Again, it’s worth explaining that Google is only using software that all big companies already employ to sell more products and services. It’s called predictive analytics. Businesses use software to track your preferences to determine how they can pitch more products to you.

In a Biz Coach book-review column entitled,A Book That Will Improve Your Life, Business and Community,” the book’s author explains how Target uses software in predictive analytics.

Obviously, Target didn’t invent the practice. On a regular basis, for example, I receive promotional announcements from IBM trying market its software. So the practice is already widespread in business.

Further, if you’re using social media or seek publicity from the media, your privacy is already in-question.

The bottom-line: In the parlance of the quirky 1998 song,”Who Let the Dogs Out?” – it’s already too late to complain. Switch to Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine. But guess what you’ll encounter?

From the Coach’s Corner, you might also read:

Best Practices to Optimize Your Global Brand, Web Reputation — As you no doubt know, the digital age has brought new challenges and opportunities. Best practices are critical in order to maximize your Web presence and to manage your online reputation.

Google Details its New Reasoning for Best Web Site Rankings — The world’s most popular search engine has released detailed information on how it evaluates and ranks Web sites. Released in November 2011, the information is still critical for domain success. Ordinarily, for proprietary reasons, Google is a bit guarded when discussing its algorithm processes. But a blog post by engineer Matt Cutts was unusually informative.

Checklist: 14 Strategies to Rock on Google — Periodic changes in Google’s search criteria and algorithms have indeed hurt many Web sites. But it’s possible to bullet-proof your site’s prominence on Google by taking 14 precautions, which is worth your time and energy. Google has perennially owned about a 66 percent search-market share in the U.S. and a 90 percent share worldwide.

“Ho, there, foul monster! Cease the knocking at thy craven knees and prepare to do battle!”

Don Quixote (when he was about to attack the windmill)

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.  

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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.