Under changes to the way Google handles users’ personal data, the company will collate information about each user across 60 of its services, to create one profile. This means that Google could deliver an advert on a YouTube page based on activity from a user’s Gmail account.

But concerns have been raised over the privacy implications of the move, with the French regulator claiming it may not be lawful.

Guy Williams, a solicitor at Russell-Cooke, said: “EU data protection laws generally require consent from an internet user for a service to transfer personal data. Consent must be ‘freely given, specific and informed’. Google might argue that by continuing to use their services users have ‘consented’ to the sharing but privacy regulators will ask whether you can really give ‘specific, informed’ consent by doing nothing?”

Chris Watson, head of Telecoms at law firm CMS Cameron McKenna, said: “Google’s new privacy settings mean ‘Big Brother’ is just a click away. Simplifying privacy settings in its browsers makes sense for Google and advertisers.

“But most internet users would be deeply concerned that when they click to close the privacy icon on their Google account, they are signing away more personal information than they might bargain for.

Alex Hanff, a prominent privacy campaigner based in Lancaster, has filed a claim at the small claims court for around £400 to replace his HTC Desire.

The claim argues that Google’s new privacy policy, which affects all Android users, represents an unfair change in contract terms and will force Mr Hanff to buy a new smartphone.

“The changes are a significant infringement of my right to privacy and I do not consent to Google being able to use my data in such a way,” he said.

Google’s new policy means user data from more than 60 of its services will be pooled to create a single profile for each of its hundreds of millions of users. By matching data from search histories, Gmail and YouTube, among dozens more services, the firm will be able to infer more about users’ interests and target advertising more accurately.

Yesterday the French privacy regulator called on Google to halt the project for the second time, expressing “strong doubts” it was “lawful”. The French were asked to investigate the new policy on behalf of a group of European privacy regulators, including Britain’s Information Commissioner.

The new policy allows Google to create a single profile of each account holder’s activity across dozens of services including search, Gmail, Google Maps and YouTube. It means the firm can a keep closer eye on the interests of hundreds of millions of people in order to target them with online advertising.

Personally I feel that Google should not have made this change, I feel that the online privacy that Google is forcing us as users to make a brutal choice on is wrong on multiple levels. I mean targeted advertising is one thing, its a very good sales tactic, but I do not feel i should have to sacrifice my privacy for the sake of business.

Many campaigners, the European Commission and American regulators have all said that Google’s privacy policy is being changed in a way that presents users with what one called “a brutal choice” – either accept it or give up services that almost every web user thinks is valuable.

And where previously, say, YouTube had a completely different way of dealing with your privacy to Gmail, now everything is wrapped into one. That means a signed-in user searching for something online could now be presented with a related advert in gmail. It means, say some, that user’s web lives will be aggregated together, and every screen you look at will help the search giant build a growing picture of what you do online. That makes people nervous.

The suggestion that the policy may not even be lawful is a challenging one for Google – if it finds itself in the European courts, for instance, then the company becomes analogous to Microsoft, which faced a battle in similar venues in the Nineties. That comparison, campaigners argue, should remind people that ‘Don’t be evil’ Google is now not so different from corporate Microsoft. Except Google knows where you shop and what you buy. European regulators argue that Google has not even been clear on what it will actually be doing with your data.

But my big question is “WHY?!?!”

Google answered this question in a statement

“It says the new policy will be easier for users to understand. That’s doubtless true, but the motivation behind it is financial. Google makes its money from online advertising, and online advertising is worth more if it is targeted to individual users interests, because they are more likely to click on ads that appeal to their interests.

By combining more than 60 files to create a single master profile of each user, Google will be able to more closely track their interests and in more detail, and use data gathered by one service to target advertising on another. For instance, if you spend an hour watching fitness videos on YouTube and then visit your Gmail account, you may be served ads from Nike or Adidas alongside your emails.”

In further detail this means:

  1. The company will be able to use information about what people are entering into its search engine to target adverts according to users’ interests under the changes.
  2. It will collate data to create a single profile for each user across 60 of its services including Gmail and YouTube.
  3. But concerns have been raised over the privacy implications of the move, with the French regulator claiming it may not be lawful.
  4. Peter Barron, head of communications at Google, said the firm was happy to meet with the French authorities to discuss their concerns.
  5. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said users could “control and manage” their search histories by opting out or switching them off.?
  6. The company will be able to use information about what people are entering into its search engine to target adverts according to users’ interests under the changes.
  7. It will collate data to create a single profile for each user across 60 of its services including Gmail and YouTube.
  8. But concerns have been raised over the privacy implications of the move, with the French regulator claiming it may not be lawful.
Peter Barron, head of communications at Google, said “the firm was happy to meet with the French authorities to discuss their concerns.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said users could “control and manage” their search histories by opting out or switching them off.”

The changes do not mean Google will collect more data on your online activities, but the data it already collects via more than 60 services icluding search, Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps will be pooled for the first time to provide advertisers with a more detailed profile of your interests.

The most important thing privacy-conscious users can do, according tothe Electronic Frontier Foundation, is to delete Google’s Web History.

“This protection was especially important because search data can reveal particularly sensitive information about you, including facts about your location, interests, age, sexual orientation, religion, health concerns, and more,” the EFF says.

“If you want to keep Google from combining your Web History with the data they have gathered about you in their other products, such as YouTube or Google Plus, you may want to remove all items from your Web History and stop your Web History from being recorded in the future.”

Here’s what you can do:

1. Sign into your Google Account

2. Go to https://www.google.com/history

3. Click “remove all Web History”

4. Click “ok”

Although this does not mean Google will keep no record of your searches, they will no longer be associated with your Google Account, and will be anonymised after 18 months.

PCWorld also urges the privacy-conscious to visit the Google Dashboard. There you can view a summary of other information the firm has associated with your account and delete things you don’t like.

Finally, visit the Ads Preferences page. Here you can opt out of Google personalised advertising systems for its own services (“Ads on Search and Gmail”) and the adverts it serves up on other websites (“Ads on the web”), which use the data it has collected to target your interests.

If none of these options satisfy your desire for privacy, you can download your data from Google’s services using Google Takeout, then delete it on the firm’s servers, or simply close your entire account.

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