This morning I received my copy of the email letting me know about Google’s new consolidated privacy statement[1].  This new policy will replace “over 60 different privacy policies”[2] currently in use.  For the most part there was nothing surprising.

Here is my summarized interpretation:

  1. We collect a lot of your information both manually (when you give it to us) and automatically (anywhere we can).
  2. We use that information to make money, ‘customize’ your experience across all our apps and improve our products.
  3. We provide a lot of tools for you to modify how your information is shared in some instances.
  4. If you don’t like us using cookies to track you, block them.  But then our stuff won’t work.
  5. If you are stupid and publicly share stuff you don’t want to through our services, it’s not our fault.  But that data is now ours (as well as anyone else’s in the world).
  6. We will make a best effort to make sure info we have about you is accurate.
  7. Even if you delete your stuff, we may keep it forever.
  8. We will share your information with third parties when you give us consent.[3]
  9. We will share your information with partners (who promise to comply with our privacy statement).
  10. We will share your information with the law when required to do so.
  11. We will make a best effort to protect your data both in our data centers and in transit.
  12. This policy applies to all of our products, except to those that it doesn’t (this one is one of my favorites).
  13. We will self regulate .[4]
  14. This policy will change.  But rights will not be reduced without your consent.

That last ones seems like a big promise.  The exact words are: “We will not reduce your rights under this Privacy Policy without your explicit consent.”

This simplified policy seems to fall in line with Google’s obvious efforts to simplify their business and consolidate their products.  Since about September of last year, they have cut quite a few fairly prominent projects[5].  Their last batch of cuts happened just 7 days ago[6].  In my opinion they are paving the way for a large centralized consumer product (Google Plus anyone?).  The rest will either become integrated into this product or an appendage to it.


Latitude AvatarDaniel Mabasa, community manager for Google Maps announced yesterday[1] that a new web interface for Google Latitude has been released.  Now there are really on a few people whose locations I have a desire to keep track of 24/7 (or desire to know mine).   But for my own personal information, it has been interesting to keep track of my own travels.  The new dashboard is kind of fun.  For instance, since I have started using Latitude it has logged 50,829 miles.

Some of the data is wrong, or at least how it interprets it is wrong.  For example, it has me taking off from an Airport in Prescott AZ last year and never landing.  Now in all fairness, I was in Prescott, AZ at the time.  But we drove there.  Maybe the fact that check-ins where inconsistent due to spotty coverage.  Or maybe I had my phone off (or latitude was off) a lot during that trip.

The dashboard also tries to graph your time at home, work and ‘out’.  It has never seemed all that accurate.  Although recently it seems to be getting better.  But it still thinks I spend more time ‘out’ than I do at home or work.  My wife can attest that Google is sorely mistaken in this case.

So if you are a Latitude user, check out the new improvements.  If you haven’t yet tried it, and you own a smartphone, its fun to play with but I wouldn’t rely on its accuracy just yet.