Archive for February, 2012

Once again online privacy is in the news. On March 1, Google will be implementing their new unified privacy policy, which has sparked a firestorm of controversy. If you’re a Google user, you’ve seen multiple notices of the upcoming change to their privacy policy. But what does it really mean.

The essence of the new privacy policy is that Google will share one privacy policy across all its products. What has people in an up roar is the idea that what you search for can translate over to ads you may see in Gmail for example. Let’s say you watch a video in YouTube about widgets. You then go to Google to search for something totally unrelated, but there is an ad for Acme Widgets.

Despite the up roar, this is not new. Microsoft has the same unified privacy policy, which would include Hotmail, Bing and Internet Explorer. And Facebook’s privacy controversies have been well-documented.

While you have no choice but to either accept privacy policy or not use any Google product, there are some things you can do. By default, Google tracks your browsing history, apart from what you’re computer tracks. A check of my Google browsing history showed sites from as far back as 2007, which was probably about the time first I set up a Gmail account. (I have had three desktop computers over that period of time.)

You can opt out of browsing history in Google by going to www.google.com/history and logging in with your Gmail address and password.  (If you have set up a Google account with a different e-mail such as an AOL account to login to YouTube for example, then you would login with that e-mail address and a Google password you created.) This will bring you to the history page where you can see everything you’ve searched for while logged in to a Google account. You can remove all or some of the searches selectively. You can also pause Web history by clicking the “Pause” button at the top. At any time you wish to resume tracking your history, just click the “Resume” button.

How to change your Google Search Browsing History

The bottom line is as long as you are choosing to use a free service such as Google or Facebook, you are subject to their terms and conditions (remember that little checkbox that said “I accept these terms”?).  And how is this different from watching your favorite show on television? The advertisers know that the viewing audience is a targeted fit for their product. (And who’s to say that technology is not already in place to monitor what we DVR or watch on-demand.)

So the privacy debate rushes on. Do we close our Facebook account, stop using Gmail or Yahoo or Hotmail so we can maintain our complete privacy? In today’s world, what really is happening is we are trading our privacy for connectivity.

What are your feelings about privacy versus connectivity?

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing.  The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.

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