Privacy-e1330544129711

Google will implement their new privacy policy and terms of service agreement on March 1st. They are consolidating 60 separate privacy policies and extending them across most of Google’s offerings. This pretty much means that all your Google account data will live in a single profile. Google says this change will ultimately benefit their users.  They will use the information to target advertising to your interests, age group, location and more.  This change affects millions of users; anyone with a Google account; Gmail, YouTube, Google Voice, Google Docs, an Android phone or any of their other services.

Some people are concerned about the changes and uncomfortable with what feels like an invasion of privacy. Google is promising to only use the data internally. Just remember they are one of the world’s largest digital advertising companies. They are benefiting from capturing all this data.  Will they decide to sell your personal information at some point in time? Who knows what the future holds?

In the meantime, if you want to have some control over your Google data, there are a couple of things you can do.

Check the Google Dashboard. Go to google.com/dashboard and login with your Google account. Review the information that Google is storing and clear out any data you no longer want associated with your account.

Clear your Google Web History. Google Web History tracks your Web browsing and saves information about your web activity. This includes pages you visit and searches on Google. Google uses cookies to track your search history even when you are logged out of Google. You can turn this off by going togoogle.com/history.  Click to remove all web history. Make sure to click ok to confirm your decision.

Clear your YouTube History. Sign in to Google and click YouTube in the toolbar. Find your user name and select Video Manager. Click History and then Clear Viewing History. Refresh your page and then click to Pause Viewing History.

Opt out of Google Ads. To prevent Google from using your data to sell you ads, opt out using Google Ad Preferences. Google uses search queries and the content of your Gmail messages to give you “personalized” ads. To disable personalized ads, go to Google’s Ad Preferences page and look for Ads on Search and Gmail. Click the Opt out button. You can opt out of personalized ads that appear on other sites by opting out of Ads on the Web.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has put together some great step-by-step guides for how to clean up your Google history.

How to Remove Your Google Search History Before Google’s New Privacy Policy Takes Effect

How to Remove Your YouTube Viewing and Search History Before Google’s New Privacy Policy Takes Effect

If you are truly paranoid about the new privacy policy, you can close your Google account completely.  You will no longer have Gmail, Google+ or Google Docs, but you would have privacy, or at least the illusion of it. The reality is there really is no such thing as privacy, when it comes to the internet.

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