To google or not, that is the question

HYDERABAD: With an awareness campaign of sorts that accosted every one of its users for a couple of months, Google has quite proudly let the world know that it will be watching and tracking us

Published: 01st March 2012 11:46 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:26 PM   |  A+A-

HYDERABAD: With an awareness campaign of sorts that accosted every one of its users for a couple of months, Google has quite proudly let the world know that it will be watching and tracking users’ every move from Thursday. Listing nine categories under which it will collect user information, its privacy policy overview, in no uncertain terms, states that information is no more ours to keep.

While the internet and web services company will not actually collect more data per se, it will, for the first time, combine its 60 different policies under one umbrella, making a bigger pot of information to dip into. The merging of user accounts under one administrator makes for a potent combination.

The American and European data protection regulators have kicked up a row, opposing the new policy. However, their Indian counterparts seem less interested as are the internet and, more specifically, Goggle users. It gets worse as almost everybody, from students to professionals, do not seem to realise what the change in Google privacy policy means.

Quite interestingly, Google employees have been instructed not to open their lips on this new policy. A casual conversation with any of them regarding the policy change makes this obvious as all of them clam up about the issue. “It is illegal to speak about any company products before their release. Since the privacy issue is sensitive and controversial, we have been specifically told not to comment,” said a Google employee on condition of anonymity. On the other hand, the most common reaction to the change in policy from users is, “we’ve seen it pop up on our page, but haven’t had the time/bothered to/wasn’t interested to read it.”

For the few of them who did take the plunge and read the policy, it didn’t seem to make much of difference. Says Aparna, another student, “I read the policy but didn’t really understand what they were trying to say. But if it becomes clear that my content is no longer secure, I will opt out of Google.” “It’s hard to not know that there is a change in policy as Google has been parading it on its homepage for a while. But nobody really takes the time to read such things. Google has become such a lifeline for people, I don’t think they’d even want to know the nitty-gritty of such a document if it means being convinced to change to another web service,” opines Rajesh, a student who uses five Google services.

The company, on its part, has gone about it professionally. Besides the public notification, a relatively detailed explanation of the new policy and the kind of information that will be collected, Google has given instructions on how to retrieve information saved on their services and hang up the account for users who are not content with the change. More importantly, they’ve also given instructions on how to protect information related to you. Nevertheless, the consensus seems to be a stricter and sparse use of the services. “I’m not willing to give up my account. What I’ll probably do is reduce the amount of information I upload,” says Kamal Kiran, a senior analyst for Flagstone RE.

India Matters


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