Google's new privacy policy and of "don't be don't be evil"

Probably like many of you, I received my new Google Privacy Policy via email this week, and while couched in language about creating a more "beautiful" experience for us, the users -- read: products -- it's also clearly about Google leveraging their popular services like Search and Gmail to help their new services, like Google+, become competitive with Facebook and Twitter.

Because Facebook and Twitter scare the shit out of Google and when companies, like people, are scared they do dumb things.

Google in particular, once the brash, brazen upstart that gave the proverbial middle finger to old, portal-style search sites and promised to always deliver the best results, not just the best Google-owned results, is struggling with their inner demons now. They don't want to be replaced by social search the way their authoritative search replaced Yahoo! and Alta Vistas of old.

I've riffed before that any company sufficiently large is indistinguishable from evil. As they grow, as they face competitive pressures, the interests and agendas of their shareholders, stakeholders, and executives increasingly and more noticeably diverge from the interests of their users. From us.

They, like many of us, become the parents they used to despise.

Why does this matter to me and why am I posting it on iMore, an iPhone and iPad focused site? Because I'm a huge user of Google services and iPhone and iPad users in general are huge users of Google's services. We use Google Search, Gmail, Maps, YouTube, and other services every day. We give Google massive amounts of personal information. We give them our trust. And that absolutely means we have both the right and obligation to hold them to that trust.

According to Sarah Lacey at PandoDaily, Google's new, "don't be don't be evil" direction has become a concern even for many Googlers past and present, and the silence surrounding it is stymying even internal PR.

Good. This shouldn't be easy. It should be messy and public and painful, and if Google wants to keep getting and using our data, they should keep earning that privilege.

Hopefully the rumors of Larry Page not wanting to hear any opposition to their new Google+ strategy are false, and like Apple and Facebook have sometimes done in the past, Google's more unpopular new policies will be reversed, and soon.

Check the source link below for more on the issues surrounding Google's new, more publicly evil direction, and read on for the new privacy policy in full.

More: Page Rage Escalates As Google Cancels Twitter Android Meeting

Dear Google user,

We're getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that's a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google.

We believe this stuff matters, so please take a few minutes to read our updated Privacy Policy and Terms of Service at These changes will take effect on March 1, 2012.

One policy, one Google experience

Easy to work across Google

Our new policy reflects a single product experience that does what you need, when you want it to. Whether you're reading an email that reminds you to schedule a family get-together or finding a favorite video that you want to share, we want to ensure you can move across Gmail, Calendar, Search, YouTube, or whatever your life calls for with ease.

Tailored for you

If you're signed into Google, we can do things like suggest search queries – or tailor your search results – based on the interests you've expressed in Google+, Gmail, and YouTube. We'll better understand which version of Pink or Jaguar you're searching for and get you those results faster.

Easy to share and collaborate

When you post or create a document online, you often want others to see and contribute. By remembering the contact information of the people you want to share with, we make it easy for you to share in any Google product or service with minimal clicks and errors.

Protecting your privacy hasn't changed

Our goal is to provide you with as much transparency and choice as possible, through products like Google Dashboard and Ads Preferences Manager, alongside other tools. Our privacy principles remain unchanged. And we'll never sell your personal information or share it without your permission (other than rare circumstances like valid legal requests).

Got questions?

We've got answers.

Visit our FAQ at to read more about the changes. (We figured our users might have a question or twenty-two.)

Notice of Change

March 1, 2012 is when the new Privacy Policy and Terms will come into effect. If you choose to keep using Google once the change occurs, you will be doing so under the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Please do not reply to this email. Mail sent to this address cannot be answered. Also, never enter your Google Account password after following a link in an email or chat to an untrusted site. Instead, go directly to the site, such as or Google will never email you to ask for your password or other sensitive information.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Uhhhhh has nothing to do with iPhone or iPad or iPod. Am i missing something.
  • Yeah, the whole paragraph where I explain what it has to do with iPhone and iPad -- devices that for many users are deeply tied into Google services, and whose users are absolutely affected by how those services are run. :)
  • Agreed with you guys. While almost everything I use is iOS based, I use and rely on a ton of Google services for personal and work related. Thanks for the writeup!
  • This is one of the main reasons why I try to minimize (a losing battle, for sure) the amount of data I fork over to that black hole named Google. I use Google every day for search, for the obvious reasons. But I have never had a gmail account, nor will I ever join G+. Over the past few years, Google has been aggressively and unabashedly pushing the envelope on mining data for the purpose of the almighty marketing dollar. They would not even participate in the Great Blackout last week, how sad is that?
    Yet, as much as I absolutely detest Google's (and Facebook's and Apple's and ...) insatiable greed for relevant data on me, I do not have naive dreams of privacy expectations. As a former programmer and network engineer, and a present security and privacy officer for a large national organization, I understand that personal privacy is just an illusion anymore. Whenever we gain some new convenience or capability, we lose just a little more of what little privacy we still have. I am not angry or even sad about this, for I know that this is the price that I must pay to use the cool and wonderful tools at my disposal. That is just the nature of this beast we call information technology.
  • They participated in the blackout. They didn't shut down their site completely like some other sites did but they blackouted the google sign and had a link for people to sign the petition and links with more info.
  • This Week in Google on TWiT had a very good conversation on this and the severe overreaction and misreporting from the blogosphere and mainstream media. It's not surprising that those who have an agenda against Google(seemingly for nothing else but the fact that Google is now a Apple competitor) like Gruber, MG and one or two folks here at iMore, look at every business move Google makes as somehow moving towards evil. These are the same folks who were criticizing Google for not innovating or adapting their business model for continued growt, now criticizing Google acting like a business. Google's focus is on their growth and profits for shareholders, not on making you feel good about Google. These are the same folks who will act like giddy school children over Apple's insane profits while not saying a word or even defend Apple against the reports of their involvement, or at least absolute silence as it pertains to factory conditions and deplorable lives of the human beings who make Apple products. For years Apple and its leader shunned charitable giving and philanthropy who raking in billions and billions, yet the word evil is associated with Google simple because tweaks its search and privacy policy to match what everyone else is already doing. Give me a freaking break. I am actually very suprised Google was not sharing my data across all the services in order to better serve me relevant information.
  • Hammer. Nail. Head.
  • That's absolutely true on one had, and off the mark on the other. It's absolutely Google acting like a business, and a ruthless, cut-throat business in the same vein as Microsoft and Apple. But neither Microsoft nor Apple styled themselves as "don't be evil" and made statements about how pure and fair their service would be. Google may be changing, or they may always have been lying, but that they made those promises and set those expectations, and now they've broken faith.
    People have a right to be upset by this. The same way people get upset about Apple's subscription policies or App Store rejections or iBooks Author terms of use. The same way people get upset about Facebook's privacy policies or use of their data.
    All these companies need to be help to incredibly high standards, and these discussions need to be had, and need to be had writ large across the internet. They're important.
    Google has several times lied directly to their customers in a way that makes it seem they think we're stupid. Just like Facebook gets their feet held to the fire, just like SOPA causes an uproar, just like Apple has been pressured to change their terms and offer free bumpers, pressure on Google is needful.
    Dismissing this, casting it as Apple fans or bloggers attacking Google does an incredible disservice to everyone, especially passionate Google enthusiasts.
    If left unchecked, if people don't react early and loudly, one day Google -- like any huge company -- will do something so egregious even die hard Google enthusiasts will be hurt. Don't stand around and do nothing. Don't wait for that.
    They have your data, make sure they earn that privilege anew every day.
    This is too important to be petty or partisan about.
  • Google are making it easier for people to understand the privacy policy instead of having individual policies for each software.this way when we read the policy we know it applies to nearly all of there products instead of reading individual ones...also they are just using the data they ALREADY HAVE and using it in other products ie Google searches will be can be used in YouTube(hows that bad) and if you actually do more research you will find that you can actually opt of a few things.before putting a negative twist to everything Google does do more research and stop trying make this seem like another ciq debacle...maybe you should rant more about apples issues with foxconn but am guessing you one of those that believe that its alright for apple to do it because there not the only one.
  • I just wish iMore had been so vociferous over Apple´s bait-and-switch operation over the e-pub standard, and how it is now sabotaging e-pub 3 by implementing proprietary stuff, just like Microsoft did with HTML in the 90´s. That's one of the things that gave Microsoft a bad rap, but Apple gets a free pass again.
  • dont expect that here and even if they are reporting on negative news they try not to make it sound too negative
  • Make a case for it. Apple didn't do anything but introduce their own proprietary standard. The market will judge them on whether it works or not.
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  • So why are you, Gruber and MG so petty and partisan. Granted you aren't as bad as those two, but not that far behind. It seems that the only companies "held accountable" are those who are a threat to Apple or even just minimal competition. First, your definition of evil is not mine or that of many others. As stated, this is Google attempting to be more clear and transparent about their privacy policy. Second, Google is a ad company that makes it profit off of knowing its users for the sake of targeted ads. This is laid out in plain sight for the user when they sign up for the service VOLUNTARILY. I'm more upset that sharing user data across services was not happening already. It's competitors already do it, and some do so much more, yet I've never seen a Facebook piece here or a Microsoft rant, only Google. So because of one simple statement, with varying interpretation, Google is held to a far stricter standard than anyone else, and is expected to be hobbled forever more because of it? Sounds more like a simple hatred towards Google, the Appple competitor, being passed of as a reaction to Google policies and business practices. There are so many actions that have being taken by Apple that deserve to ranted against here long before any thought of making Google the topic of a rant enters the minds of any iMore staffer.
  • actually the Jobs family gave millions to charity.
  • Curious, but, aren't most of the email carriers, like Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc, doing the same thing?
    Confused; maybe it is time for me to solely use my email address\account? But, what happens when they\Apple start sharing my data? Or do they do this already? (serious question)
  • Apple won't share your data. It's integral to their business strategy to keep themselves between their consumer customers and their business customers.
  • im a lil confused i heard a lot of bad impressions of the new google terms, but i dont actually recall anyone specifying what are the cons or new limitations that it offers.
  • ...curious, Rob. What email provider do you use?
  • The only Google service we use is Gmail. And increasingly we're using for search. Better-looking, far fewer spammy paid-for-placement search results.
  • I think we'll be seeing Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon trying their best to get more and more information on their clients. Because the better they know each of us, the better they'll be able to target specific ads at us and the better they'll be able to recommend specific products for us to buy.
    Amazon's Kindle Fire is a great example of several aspects of increasingly bold corporate data-gathering. It acts as an at-home sales terminal for Amazon goods, tracking everything you browse and buy, and sending that data back to Amazon. Pretty much the way Amazon uses your browsing history on their site. But the Silk browser on the Fire also tracks you general web surfing. And although it's Android-based, the Fire sends zero data about your purchase history, product affinities, or browsing history back to Google.
    All that data goes to Amazon. Google gets no benefit from Fire other than using it as yet another screen on which to show ads. (And remember that 96% of Google's profits come from ads.) The Fire is yet another way for Amazon to sell goods to us more efficiently by knowing us better. Google, Apple, Facebook, and possibly Twitter et al, are now trying and will continue to try to "get to know us" better.
  • Trying to track consumer habits is nothing new or unique. Stores have been doing it long before the internet became popular. All the internet did was allow for it on a larger scale.
  • You do realize that in study, after study respondents have stated they trust Google more with their personal info over Apple.
    Feel free to Bing, Yahoo, Google it yourself
  • There seems to be a certain anti Google narrative going around. Lots of people complaining about supposed changes here and privacy issues there. Now I'd like to see a point by point article explaining these issues and comparing them to better services any day. But this is an opinion piece in the style of a la MG just slamming Google for vague notions of your perceptions of what is evil and what is open and what should be.
  • Why rteirsct it to US and UK? There are plenty of other English-speaking markets, and English-speaking people across the globe. Oops yes. Google is US company, so international knowledge fail.
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