Privacy Changes For Google Services Are Ruffling Feathers

Search giant Google has previously announced changes in its privacy  policies starting on March 1 of this year. It is expected to fold 60 of its 70 existing product-privacy policies into one blanket policy which users cannot opt out of.

Google will also treat any user with an account who signs into its search services, YouTube, Gmail or its other services as the same individual across those services and it is expected to share data between those services, reports Nicholas Kolakowski for eWeek.

Google is promising the change in direction is to the benefit of the user. A search for “German restaurants”, for example, would yield results not just from the web, but from Google+ posts or Gmail messages.

Privacy advocates are arguing that these are profound changes in what the public has so far expected from Google and they run roughshod over user privacy rights, all in the name of allowing the company to better compete with Facebook for advertising dollars.

Pushing back, Google is arguing that its new policy is more transparent. “Our approach to privacy has not changed,” Pablo Chavez, Google´s director of public policy, argued in a Jan. 30 letter to Congress. “Google users continue to have choice and control.”

Microsoft, wasting no time to strike at Google during a rare moment of weakness, is attempting to pull some customers away into its own search engine and web services.

Microsoft chief spokesman Frank Shaw, in a blog entry on the Official Microsoft Blog, said: “the changes Google announced make it harder, not easier, for people to stay in control of their own information. We take a different approach–we work to keep you safe and secure online, to give you control over your data, and to offer you the choice of saving your information on your hard drive, in the cloud, or on both.”

“If the news about Google has you feeling frustrated, or concerned, or both, we have some great, award-winning alternatives.”

Some of those alternatives include its email service, Hotmail, search engine, Bing, the cloud-based Office 365 and browser Internet Explorer. In addition, Microsoft will run ads in major newspapers this week that says the company is “Putting People First,” reports By Paul McDougall for InformationWeek.

Microsoft would be remiss if it was not taking this advantage to launch opportunistic attacks against any one of Google´s policies or products. And like any good battle between superpowers, it then becomes a question of how Google will respond.

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