March 1st, 2012
10:22 AM ET

Google's new privacy policy in effect today: 'Accept, or decline and be banished'

Today, Google implements its new privacy policy and terms of service. If you use any of Google's products and services–from Gmail, to Google, to YouTube–"this stuff matters", as Google has been telling its users in notices for weeks. "The main change is for users with Google Accounts," the company explains in a post on the official Google Blog. "Our new Privacy Policy makes clear that, if you’re signed in, we may combine information you've provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience."

Critics, however, say combining all the user data from your various Google accounts has another big effect: Google gets to assemble a very detailed dossier on you–including some bits of information that you might prefer to keep private. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains, "search data can reveal particularly sensitive information about you, including facts about your location, interests, age, sexual orientation, religion, health concerns, and more."

As Nick Mediati writes on PC World, "this grand consolidation means that all of your Google account data will live in a single database that every Google service can access. Google Maps will have access to your Gmail data, which will have access to your YouTube history, and so on."

So. Can you simply opt out? No, you can't. As one writer put it, "you can accept, or decline and be banished."

"Google’s new privacy announcement is frustrating and a little frightening,” Common Sense Media chief executive James Steyer told The Washington Post. “Even if the company believes that tracking users across all platforms improves their services, consumers should still have the option to opt out — especially the kids and teens who are avid users of YouTube, Gmail and Google Search.”

The EFF recommends people with Google accounts disable their web history. (You can get step-by-step directions to do that here) It won't keep Google from collecting and keeping information about you, but it will limit what Google does with that information, including having your info "partially anonymized after 18 months."

PC World's Mediaiti describes another way of protecting yourself from Google's new all-in policy, which he calls "the nuclear option." Essentially, you delete all your Google accounts. You lose everything, though it's not entirely clear what Google gets rid of when you hit "delete." What is clear is that the company will no longer complile new information about you.

Filed under: Tech • Under Surveillance
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. Bazoing

    The video does not mention that you need an account to see if they have been collecting your history. And you need an account to erase any history they may have. I am not certain I do not somehow have an account, but I do not want one. And I do not want to share information with them to get an account to see if they have been collecting stuff on me. They are creepy!

    May 16, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Reply
  2. red

    I understand, they take a knowing of which people finding for google brain or gov. if this is true, I can't find your name forever milf

    March 28, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Reply
  3. Pacific

    To think we all used to get upset because we could not delete the "index.dat" file stored by Microsoft. Sheesh

    March 7, 2012 at 12:16 am | Reply
  4. Jason

    I'm broke, I cheated on my taxes once, I had an innapproproate relationship with a girl at work once. Or twice. There, I'm all out there now. Like a band-aid.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Reply
  5. mwahahaha

    if you don't want Google having any of your info i can show you a charming cave on the dark side of the moon you can move into. it's fresh all year round

    March 6, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Reply
    • D


      April 12, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Reply
  6. cocobird

    Simple – don't sign up for their services. You have to sign up and sign in. Don't be stupid and accept cookies on your system expect where absolutely necessary and accept session only cookies. If you are going to give them all of your information – and for free, why not take off all of your clothes and run around the neighborhood naked with your social security number and drivers license written across your chest?

    March 2, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  7. bin trying to tell you

    Like in the portergeist, that litle girl said, "they're her!" and yes, they're here and all over..... the administration has sanctioned all these that is why they can do it and without interruption. Watch out! soon, they will also take your first born.... your house... tax you over 50% to fund their whims.... and then annihilate 50% of the worlds population.... stop fooling yourself.... it's time to get up and smell the coffee.... you're next....

    March 2, 2012 at 11:31 am | Reply
  8. Al

    For your next article, please explain how we can disable the Quantcast and AudienceScience tracking on CNN.

    March 2, 2012 at 7:54 am | Reply
  9. redwine9991


    March 2, 2012 at 7:09 am | Reply
    • FifthApe

      I for one remember the pre-google web. I'll take the google world every time.

      March 2, 2012 at 8:22 am | Reply
      • redwine9991

        Sorry that your reduced gray matter does not allow you to see the point. Perhaps in the next life?

        March 2, 2012 at 10:51 am | Reply
      • Rob M

        Actually, I remember Altavista.com worked very well and included translation.

        March 5, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Reply
    • E

      What amazes me? That everyone only now get worked up with Google's stance on privacy.

      Try using NoScript on Firefox. I have yet to see a site without Google Analytics pop up in NoScript for blocking. Also why the maker of NoScript could not design an adequate version for Chrome. Google cripples it for their ad services. They've always wanted to track everyone.

      Google Analytics tracks your browsing habits, and has been doing so for almost a decade.

      March 2, 2012 at 10:55 am | Reply
      • TisJustMe

        Finally a voice that speaks with knowledge and common sense instead of fear and panic!

        What many people do not realize is that Apple does the same thing generally as Google when it comes to gathering and collating personal data. And why not? There is money to be made with the results. "Rumor" has it that Apple's operations are much more advanced, both in terms of technology and effectiveness, than Google's. Smartphone service providers and handset manufacturers are also gathering also details for the same reasons as the phone OS providers. All this is expected because the companies are for-profit concerns.

        You want to know what these folks are gathering in your dossier? Read the license agreement in detail instead of just glossing over it and selecting Accept. Also do a little research and learn how you are being tracked and what you can do to minimize or alter the data that is collected about you.

        March 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Reply
      • Drew

        I use NoScript now, and am appalled at the number of sites you would THINK are safe, but are tracking your every move.

        March 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Reply
  10. Jeff Goldfinger

    If you have Gmail accounts, use a mail app, like Thunderbird or whatever.

    For the rest, just don't log in to Google and set the in Options to delete all your cookies when closing the browser. I only logged in to avoid getting too much FoxNews crap in Google News, but now I just use a Murdock Block extension.

    Use Firefox with AdBlock Plus, then you'll never see any advertising, no matter if it's personalized or not.

    Also install the Firefox Ghostery AddOn to block all trackers, this site here for example has 7 trackers that I block. (Audience Science, DoubleClick DART, FaceBook Social Plugins, Outbrain, Quantcast, Twitter Button, WordPress stats)

    As for more fishy stuff, just use the TOR browser to surf to those sites.

    March 2, 2012 at 5:50 am | Reply
  11. Jodes

    And use more private search engines such as duckduckgo or ixquick.

    March 2, 2012 at 12:04 am | Reply
  12. The BellyOfTheBeast

    We are seeing the ever present fact of our dissolving privacy. Google youtube fox and countless other 'media' outlets are controlled and manipulated by few organizations that seek to undermined individual liberty. This is one of the steps to the Orwellian ideas of control by the state. In very little time we shall see the federal government instating its will on the people through complete control of these organizations. This will quell any and all decent against the 'system' or 'state' by targeting people as 'enemies of the state' even though no infraction has occurred. The NEW WORLD ORDER is coming folks do not be fooled. Even CNN is not 'liberal media' it is a conglomerate that includes 'liberal' and 'conservative' influences meaning BOTH affiliations of respective ideology are controlled by the same organization and effectively the same people. 'Any society that gives a little liberty for a little security deserves neither and shall lose both' ... You must see through the guise of controls set in front of you and question whether or not what is being told to you is the truth or just one side of the story. Wake up America..... we are being manipulated into mindless sheep who are pasifists unless told otherwise by our 'media' and 'leaders' think for your self !!! "They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that . . . "- George Carlin

    March 1, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Reply
    • redwine9991

      2% of the population own 50% of all the assets in this world.

      March 2, 2012 at 10:54 am | Reply
    • TisJustMe

      And another 2% wear tinfoil hats.

      March 5, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  13. Bobalicious

    Privacy doesn't bother me... I'm an exhibitionist, and enjoy being watched... 🙂

    March 1, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Reply
  14. enzo

    It's OK. Once a day I google "Twinkie" and then log onto Sports Illustrated. Now they just think I'm Jerry Sandusky.

    March 1, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Reply
  15. Alex

    Google search results are soooo bloated with sponsered links that they have become useless...results are driven towards my ip address and finding new and interesting websites is virtually impossible.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Reply
  16. David S

    Of course, you can use separate browsers, which don't share cookies. For example, you can use gmail on Chrome and youtube on FireFox and they won't talk to each other.

    March 1, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      Dude, the browsers talk to Google, not to each other. Using separate browsers doesn't solve anything.

      March 2, 2012 at 12:24 am | Reply
    • Chris

      Unless, of course, you are signed in while using both services...

      March 2, 2012 at 5:24 am | Reply
  17. outawork

    Wouldn't the "the nuclear option" be to stop using google altogether?

    March 1, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Reply
  18. John

    And most importantly, don't forget to cancel all your Google accounts. If everyone did that, this worldwide invasion of privacy would be over in a few days,

    March 1, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Reply
    • Tim

      Nuked my Google account 2/29/12. Haven't picked a different search engine yet, Bing is bloody awful and Yahoo isn't much better.

      March 1, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Reply
      • paul h.

        try metacrawler

        March 3, 2012 at 2:15 am | Reply
  19. Frank Stjerne

    Since when has surfing or using the internet become private? Since when has driving around in a car with at number plate become private.

    Get real!

    March 1, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Reply
    • Matt

      Yeah, but before, nobody knew when i drove up to Overlook Mountain to spend some time with my favorite gal in my car. Now they will.

      March 1, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Reply
      • Elmo Google

        Matt we've been spying on you both from Google Earth. Sorry but she has a full time man when your not there. Wasn't going to share that with you but oh well your easy to track carrying that Google phone.

        March 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Reply
        • Edward

          Teaching individuals what you KNOW is a good tuohght, but spreading rumors and half truths is not fantastic for everyone. I hope you do a small additional study ahead of you post your subsequent article or blog post. It's one particular factor to be naive but this is downright silly.

          April 9, 2012 at 8:33 am | Reply
  20. xesor

    I would not mind it if Google paid me a portion of what they are making "off" me as I search with their products. They are going to make more money from advertisers with this new service.

    March 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Reply
    • Phil

      Actually, you CAN get paid by Google. Just set up an Adsense account and you'll get paid everytime someone visits one of your sites where you ignorantly complain that your privacy is somehow being invaded. It's unbelievable the level of stupidity that exists about this subject...and the major media players (NBC, CNN, etc.) are all playing into it – probably because they hate the fact that Google generates more revenue in one day than they do in half a year. If there were any real journalists left in this country, they could actually educate people on what this policy means (virtually nothing) and could quell some of the idiotic paranoia.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Reply
      • Phil

        Of course, it's these media types that spawned said paranoia to begin with.

        March 1, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  21. JJC

    The uproar does not make sense to me. If you are not logged in to your google account when you do a google search, etc. then they won't be combined. Who sits there logged in to google all day? I get in, check my mail, then log out.

    I understand a little what people seem to be frightened of, but this is very minor compared to facebook reading the texts off of your phone and sending them back to their database. Seriuosly, these companies do a lot worse things like bypass your browsers security to track you. This latest change by google is not nearly as bad as the things these companies do to track you. Even your grocery store is tracking you. If you don't want your information tracked then sadly you will have to revert to nothing but paper money and stop using the internet.

    You are already being watched.

    March 1, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Reply
    • Johnny

      They track to your IP address with this new policy. You don't need to be logged in – just a simple google search associates to you.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Reply
      • jab

        They've always logged ip address but that alone does not associate a user, at best it's a general piece of data since DHCP and single ip address gateways make ip tracking in and of itself only a general location guide. They do however store cokies on your computer and can use that whether you're logged in or not and can associate that with your user data, so no you don't need to be logged in for them to collect surfing data. The only significant change with the new policy is that they've combined their data into one source rather than having independent sources for each service.

        March 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Reply
    • redwine9991


      March 2, 2012 at 7:10 am | Reply
  22. FactFeed

    Today I uninstalled ALL Google products installed on my computers using the Windows "Add or Remove Programs" removal tool.

    I also removed and disabled all Google Add-ons and extensions on all browsers and removed the Google Toolbars from ALL browsers (Firefox, IE and Opera). Furthermore, I went to "google.com/history" and DELETED all history entries and opted out of the history tracking option.

    From today onward, I will never, ever use the Google search engine again. They are history. I had that Google Toolbar for many years. But once I removed it all of my browsers load 5 times faster.

    This is the only language these unscrupulous greedy pinheads understand. Hit them where it hurts to remind them WHO is in control. Get these seedy, greedy brain-dead mentalities out of your life and see how fast your browser flies without them.

    I also removed all Facebook links and blocked the "facebook.com" root link in all my securities settings.

    Take charge! Send them the message they most need to hear. And REMEMBER - they need YOU - you do NOT need them. It's imperative that everyone realize this and communicate this to these sleazy vultures with authority.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Reply
    • redwine9991

      GOOD FOR YOU!!!

      March 2, 2012 at 7:11 am | Reply
  23. Bob

    So if you dont have a Google account, but use Google Search occasionally, there is no history recorded?

    March 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Reply
  24. Thee rainbowDash

    I like Turtles!!!

    March 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Reply
    • Caiha

      Turtle pie?

      April 12, 2012 at 3:56 am | Reply
  25. TexDoc

    More helpful would have been a list of private web search sites. There are many, but you can't google them.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  26. CbusChris

    So what happens when your not signed in? Can I still search using google and not have to worry about my every thought being indexed in a super database somewhere?

    March 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Reply
  27. mecatfish

    This whole thing is stupid...Ever notice how they treat the info they collect? Buy a TV and they target you with more TVs. I bought a printer, and guess what? Yep, ads for more printers. Just bought a house? I can send you a list of more houses you can buy. Just stupid.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  28. Clean


    March 1, 2012 at 11:52 am | Reply
  29. bam

    why would u provide real info for a youtube account or a gmail account etc etc etc.... cant fix stupid. stupid is as stupid does......

    March 1, 2012 at 11:50 am | Reply
  30. intelli

    the homepage article name

    March 1, 2012 at 11:39 am | Reply
  31. GrammarCheck

    The link to this page off the main website isn't even spelled correctly...as of 10:36am anyway. Geez CNN, learn to spell.

    March 1, 2012 at 11:36 am | Reply
  32. Rick Ash

    It was spelled wrong on the link to get here, but correct inside the blog.

    March 1, 2012 at 11:34 am | Reply
  33. JT

    As of 11:32 a.m. Eastern, the headline on the homepage is "How to turn of Google Web history"

    March 1, 2012 at 11:32 am | Reply
  34. Telveer

    You need to be signed in for gmail and google+, but youtube and google search can be accessed without signing in. If you are concerned, use private browsing for google search and youtube.

    March 1, 2012 at 11:22 am | Reply
  35. gerd

    in the email lol

    March 1, 2012 at 11:04 am | Reply
  36. podunda

    Just don't sign in to Google – it's that simple people !

    March 1, 2012 at 11:00 am | Reply
  37. Josh

    learn how to spell "off."

    March 1, 2012 at 10:35 am | Reply
    • standupkid

      Where do you see the word "off" in the post?

      March 1, 2012 at 10:39 am | Reply
      • ^^

        on cnn's home page

        March 1, 2012 at 10:49 am | Reply
      • SilentBoy741

        He's referring to the come-on link on the main CNN page. It's clearly misspelled as "How to turn of Google Web history". At first I thought, "Spell check, CNN, spell check". But spell check wouldn't catch that; this time it's actually required that the brain filter be firmly engaged.

        March 1, 2012 at 11:29 am | Reply
        • Marcia

          Really...there is more important things in this then the correct way to spell "off"

          March 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Reply
          • Jerk


            March 2, 2012 at 7:49 am | Reply
      • derp

        it says 'of' instead of 'off' in the link on the main cnn page

        March 1, 2012 at 11:31 am | Reply
      • VSJ

        CNN's link to this post on their main page is "How to turn of Google Web history"

        March 1, 2012 at 11:32 am | Reply
      • Miracle Worker

        That's the point. Off isn't listed as it's misspelled.

        March 1, 2012 at 11:39 am | Reply
      • ReadingIsFunDuhMental

        The headline reads "turn of Google history"...

        March 1, 2012 at 11:43 am | Reply
      • Roebrt Bell

        The link from the main page says (or said, if CNN corrected it) 'How to turn of Google Web History"

        I just checked it now, and they fixed it. Typo.

        March 1, 2012 at 11:54 am | Reply
    • Demara

      Yes, the link on the CNN homepage has a typo. Who reviews these things before publishing them?

      And speaking of Google, I'm closing all my accounts because this is the corporation equivalent of spying on people.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:49 am | Reply
    • Grammar Troll


      March 1, 2012 at 11:51 am | Reply

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