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Google said Tuesday it will follow the activities of users across e-mail, search, YouTube and other services, a shift in strategy that is expected to invite greater scrutiny of its privacy and competitive practices. The information will enable Google to develop a fuller picture of how people use its growing empire of Web sites. Consumers will have no choice but to accept the changes. The policy will take effect March 1 and will also impact Android mobile phone users, who are required to log in to Google accounts when they activate their phones. “If you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services,” Alma Whitten, Google’s director of privacy, product and engineering wrote in a blog post.

Google can track users when they sign into their accounts. It can also use cookies or find out where people are if they use a Google phone or its maps program. The company will now attempt to mix all of that information together into a single cauldron for each person. For instance, a user who has watched YouTube videos of the Washington Wizards might suddenly see basketball ticket ads appear in his or her Gmail accounts.

That person may also be reminded of a business trip to Washington on Google Calendar and asked whether he or she wants to notify friends who live in the area, information Google would cull from online contacts or its social network Google+. Google said it would notify its hundreds of millions of users of the change through an e-mail and on its main search site.

Privacy advocates say Google’s new policy may betray users who did not expect their information would be shared across different Web sites when they signed up for a single service, such as Gmail.

Well at least they’re being upfront about it. The rest is up to the consumer, (yes, you do have a choice) to decide whether they want to put up with this crap. I am convinced that like Facebook, the vast majority will embrace it, and Google knows it.

  1. Surrender Dorothy says:

    Google is too big to fight.

  2. Dallas says:

    Thats it. I am no longer going on the internet – except for Dvorak to harrass the lunatic fringe, right wing sheeple here.

  3. Skeptic: Post # ≥1 says:

    Similar to GPS, eh?

  4. Dr Spearmint Fur says:

    I’m using DuckDuckGo for search now. Looking at gmail alternatives.

    All the Google apps are getting this MS Office feel to them. One big integrated uber app that are becoming cluttered and unfocused. And they’ve killed off apps and replacing them with the flavour of the week.

  5. bobbo, we think with words, and flower with ideas. says:

    I did a search on pressure cookers last week and tonight I noticed an ad for pressure cookers before I could watch a youtube. Well, better that than an ad for a penis enhancer. Who wants to be reminded of that more than 10 times per day?

    “I am convinced that like Facebook, the vast majority will embrace it, and Google knows it.” /// Yes—as a matter of fact, I do.

    Embrace the singularity. You are belong to us.

    • Lynn says:

      You urinatte ten times a day? This seems excessive. How’s your blood sugar?

  6. msbpodcast says:


    I’m all about MySpace.

    No … I kid, I kid…

    But if I didn’t have as my domain, I’d be using (Oh, I am? But nobody ever writes me there. That’s because I decided to opt out… Well fuck it.)

  7. t0llyb0ng says:

    it is new privacy policy—says so right in the headline

  8. Bill R. says:

    What??? You mean they haven’t been doing this all along??

  9. Cap'nKangaroo says:

    I had sort of assumed Google was already doing this.

    • deowll says:

      Exactly. I said exactly the same thing when I hit the article elsewhere. The people that stick all those tracking cookies on your hard drive do exactly the same thing.

      I suppose you could do a fresh boot of a DVD with Linux on it every day but they would still most likely work it out.

      Go through Tor? That would most likely have the feds following you.

  10. dusanmal says:

    My boil-over point was in the Spring of last year (though I noticed poorer search results ever since Google mandated “location” as an inseparable part of the search): in the morning (!) one day I spent some time researching potential vacation in Italy… Done with it, after lunch I attempted search on technical issue: manufacturers of touch-screen flat panels…
    Top (non-promoted, not-an-ad!) result for that search… (drum roll)… Cinqueterre tourist area in Italy tourism board site. For the record, not only that there are no flat panel manufacturers there at all but it is tourist region devoid of any electronic industry. For Google benefit – other results were appropriate, but this can’t cut it.
    Since that time I have become extremely paranoid about them: I do not run any Google-related site in my normal browser, ever. I run (in Firefox) GoogleShare (location anonymizer), Ghostery and AdBlock+. As various Google branch-offs are present across the sites I block any Google (or Google-related ex. Youtube, G+,…) cookies. I in general block Flash cookies (root owned, read only, immutable directory where they’d go). I run BetterPrivacy in order to clear all other potentially leaky cookies and the like that would persist after browser sessions…. And many other more esoteric measures…
    I do use GMail (and when needed other Google services) on separate single-use machine. Nothing else there but GMail… Resetting DSL modem after its use for a new IP#…
    No, no spying i* or Androids here – WebOS phone, rooted.
    Kludge? – Yes. Worth every obstructionist bit. YES.
    Will this policy remind Google of Facebook and Netflix fiasco(s)?
    Most definitely. There will be push down on their value. I hope the slap will be strong but do not expect their retreat.

    • bobbo, we think with words, and flower with ideas. says:

      Why do you care? I mean, really–why?

      I don’t.

      I doubt you are doing anything illegal or even immoral, so why the paranoia?

      and as indicated “If” I cannot avoid having ads pop up where they do, I’d rather have more relevant adds than totally unrelated to my possible interests.

      Why so inflexible? Self defeating??

  11. KMFIX says:


  12. Lou Minatti says:

    The new Facebook Timeline reminds me of the “new” Dvorak blog design… forced change for no real reason and everyone hates it.

    • jpfitz says:

      Agreed about the Dvorak blog Lou, the non numbered design has me replying to the wrong person occasionally and feeling foolish.

  13. eighthnote says:

    Haha…like I didn’t see this coming. This is exactly why I now implement my use of web-based services between multiple providers. I don’t use most of Google’s apps, and when I’m logged into YouTube, I use Yahoo for searches. Track that, Google.

    • Hmeyers2 says:

      I tried Bing a few times. The quality of the results were very poor compared to Google (even though Bing is somewhat better than a couple of years ago).

      And Yahoo uses Bing for search results.

      It is strange the only Google knows how to do search results. Especially since Yahoo and Microsoft have been doing the internet for 10+ years.

      Do Yahoo and Bing think just existing is enough and that there is no need to provide a quality product? Or is that their strategy … don’t actually “try” and some people will use your service just because it is there?

  14. Peppeddu says:

    No biggie.

    Google started when the giants of that time started to use draconian policies and left the door wide open for someone that made sense to come along (remember when you had to pay to be included in the top search results?)

    Now that Google is starting to use draconian policies, guess what? it’s opening the door for someone else to come along.

    Wash rinse and repeat.

  15. Anonymous says:

    “Do no evil.” HA!

  16. jpfitz says:

    Google has it all on their servers. Who cares. I have nothing in my searching , browsing or mail to hide.

    • Diesel says:

      I used to think the same thing. I have nothing to hide so why do I care? The same thing was said when traffic cameras started popping up, I;m not doing anything illegal so why do I care if they see me.

      I still have this same mentality but my reasons have changed slightly. It’s not about whether you care or not, it’s about “allowing” them to get away with it knowing full well that it’s just their foot in the door to get more control, more monitoring, more tracking of things that you *will* eventually care about and by that time it’s too late to do anything about it because we already set a presidence about not caring from the beginning.

  17. Animby - Just Phoning It In says:

    Important words to remember. Did you think Google was giving all that stuff away for free?

    If you’re embarrassed by all your searches on the NAMBLA website or your patronage of those male enhancers Bobbo is always complaining about, then don’t log in while you search and get an alias email account on Yahoo or Hotmail.

    (*There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch)

  18. jescott418 says:

    I think the ideal of an internet privacy Utopia is a joke. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, web retail stores, they all track and keep information of your web history. I guess what is scary about Google is it probably has most of that information in one place.
    If you do not like it, I recommend dropping of the grid.

  19. Mextli: ABO says:

    Well if you don’t have anything to hide…………

  20. Jorn says:

    Gotta love the Google +1 button below the post

  21. bobbo, we think with words, and flower with ideas. says:


    It is my sad duty to report that the government accessing encrypted harddrives has nothing to do with Google capturing personal information. Words have meaning and ideas are corrupted when expanded past their appropriate meanings. People who understand the limitations of words are not often libertarians.

    Know what I mean?

    Ha, ha.

  22. Lynn says:

    It’s nice to get back to the kind of content and informed discussion on technology that first brought me to this site yea these many years ago.

    • bobbo, we think with words, and flower with ideas. says:

      Well then how come your very bestest posts are about the hooman condition? Sounds like you enjoy reading about that which you already know but post casually about that which the rest of us don’t?

      Sad when the best sensei among us have grown tired of their Sisyphean task, but are we all not anointed by god for our chosen burdens? Or, could that be our chosen gods for our anointed burdens? Can words be so flippy floppy?

      I avert my attention and look for more tech topics. Would chosing the best counter top oven for bread baking be a tech topic? I’m thinking just about any oven of size and putting clay tiles in it. Or alternatively, just accepting too dense bread and softer crusts.

      There are many out and out tech blogs. Could you have some unrecognized guilty pleasures?

      • bobbo, we think with words, and flower with ideas. says:

        Hah–not to mention that this particular thread has precious little to do with tech?

        • Lynn says:

          Well, some of it did! You are very poetic today, bobbo.

          I like to read about what I don’t know. I like to bloviate about what I do know.

          By tech, I mean them interweb tube thingies and computer stuff and all. However, bread ovens are also technology. On Gerhard Lenski’s scale, I am talking about postindustrial technology (information technology) primarily.

          • bobbo, we think with words, and flower with ideas. says:

            Gerhard Lenski? Well, every important subject has to start somewhere…but I’ll wager you are more into Marshall McLuhan but with either choice are more into the sociological impact/interaction of tech and very little to do with the tech itself.

            Its the information, not the appliance.

            Toys are for boys.
            Boys are for girls.
            Girls like to talk about it.

            Ha, ha.

  23. overtemp says:

    Sounds like the ads in Gmail are going to become even more annoyingly unrelated to anything of interest to me than they are now.

  24. President Amabo & my wife Chewbacca (Give us a flat, chronological (civilised) comment view please) says:

    I do random searches for things like solar powered butt plugs for a couple of hours a day. Makes the ads more entertaining.

    • Lynn says:

      Gives new meaning to “where the sun don’t shine”.

      • President Amabo & my wife Chewbacca (Give us a flat, chronological (civilised) comment view please) says:

        Well, when you’re out tanning, if you lay face down with your ass pushed up in the air and have a properly positioned mirror…. just sayin’

  25. Dick C. Flatline says:

    I use my JavaScript Golem to run Google searches while I’m sleeping. It searches exact phrases like ‘goats in red latex garter belts’ and ‘pigtailed hookers on tricycles’.

    Google thinks I’m a congressman.

  26. orchidcup says:

    I have been a big fan of Gmail since its inception, but I am having serious second thoughts.

    I am looking into setting up my own email server with encryption.

    I have mentioned this before, but trusting your privacy to a corporation is no different than trusting a sociopath to handle your finances.

    There is a good deal of work involved with setting up anonymous web surfing and secure email, but I am on that track now.

  27. 3d bomb says:

    I know this is old news now but I thought I’d comment anyway. I’ve become lazy enough online that I use a lot of Googles services without taking the time to setup my own or search for better alternatives.

    I have to encounter some negative thing that shows me that this tracking is so bad that I need to get off my ass and do something about it. Right now the worst that’s happened is I’ve seen the odd advert that was related to something I was interested in. Hardly cause for alarm there really.

    What seems to be ignored about all this is that while Google track everything and apply that information to serve better ads or more profitable ads, however you want to look at it. The also sell everything they have to other companies and it’s there I wonder what is happening with the data. I’ve never read an article that went into any detail about it other than, it happens.

    Until I do, I guess I’ll keep on being easily tracked and look forward with trepidation to the day that a street advert calls me by name as I pass it by.

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