Google Simplifies Its Privacy Policy For Greater Transparency

Last week I had a bit of a moan about Google, it’s seeming lack of direction, the apathy surround Buzz and wondered about the privacy implications of its priority inbox.

By one of those strange quirks of fate I have just picked up a piece on Google’s own blog about how it was stripping out some of the legalese crap from its privacy police to try and make things easier for the man in the street to see what the heck is going on when Google processes your data. Google isn’t changing any of its privacy practices; they just want to make its policies more transparent and understandable. As a first step, they’re making two types of improvements.

To quote from the Google blog:

“Most of our products and services are covered by our main Google Privacy Policy. Some, however, also have their own supplementary individual policies. Since there is a lot of repetition, we are deleting 12 of these product-specific policies. These changes are also in line with the way information is used between certain products—for example, since contacts are shared between services like Gmail, Talk, Calendar and Docs, it makes sense for those services to be governed by one privacy policy as well.

“We’re also simplifying our main Google Privacy Policy to make it more user-friendly by cutting down the parts that are redundant and rewriting the more legalistic bits so people can understand them more easily. For example, we’re deleting a sentence that reads, “The affiliated sites through which our services are offered may have different privacy practices and we encourage you to read their privacy policies,” since it seems obvious that sites not owned by Google might have their own privacy policies.

”In addition, we’re adding more content to some of our product Help Centers so people will be able to find information about protecting their privacy more easily; and a new privacy tools page to the Google Privacy Center. This will mean that our most popular privacy tools are now all in one place.These privacy policy updates will take effect in a month, on October 3. You can see the new main Google Privacy Policy here, and if you have questions this FAQ should be helpful.

Our updated privacy policies still might not be your top choice for beach reading (I am, after all, still a lawyer), but hopefully you’ll find the improvements to be a step in the right direction.”

Has the new policy made any more sense to you?

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Kevin Tea is a journalist and marketing communications professional who has worked for some of the leading blue chip companies in the UK and Europe. In the 1990s he became interested in how emerging Internet-based technologies could change the way that people worked and became an administrator on the Telework Europa Forum on CompuServe. With other colleagues he took part in a four year European Commission sponsored project to look at the way that the Internet could benefit remote communities. His blog is a resource for SMEs who want to use cloud computing and Web 2.0 technologies.