Simplifying and understanding Google’s new privacy policy

A week ago, on March 1st 2012, Google’s big step forward came into practice in earnest. When they first made their proposed new privacy policy public, half its users did not understand what it really meant. Within a month, a number of people spoke against it and many even vowed to delete their Google accounts. As it happened, not half of them had really understood what the new policy meant, and, most importantly, what was different from the old one.

In short, the main point put forth by the changed policy is that Google — which used to keep its user history from Google Search and YouTube separate — can now combine collected user data in order to deliver better results and show advertisements that have a greater probability of attracting your click on them and hence make the Search Giant some good money. And, while this is not as bad as it seems, (it is definitely better than Google’s re-branding the Android Market to Google Play,) the decision to start using its services, or continue to do so, is left entirely to you.

Below is Google’s new privacy policy, simplified into three steps, some views about it, and what you can do to convince yourself it is no big harm after all!

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[You can read EPIC’s original complaint against FTC (pdf document.) Or you can listen to Rainey Reitman’s short talk on CBC’s Day 6 Explainer. And if you decide to stick on to Google, you can join me on Google+!]