Aggregate Sharing of Super-Profiles
Google shares aggregated, non-personally identifiable information publicly and with its partners, such as publishers, advertisers or connected sites. Under the new policy, account-holders’ user data is compiled across multiple Google sources to create user super-profiles.
Point: Even if Google shares such super-profile information in an aggregated, non-personally identifiable fashion, the disclosure risks revealing user personal information. Given the means that are currently available for aggregating disparate pieces of data, it is not unreasonable to consider that personalized information collected by advertisers, even when anonymized, might eventually be linked to an individual. As suggested in the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Guidelines on Privacy and Online Behavioural Advertising, released in December 2011, the information involved in online tracking and targeting will generally constitute personal information for the purposes of privacy legislation.
Counterpoint: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. In order to provide free services, Google relies on advertising revenues. In order to maximize revenues, it provides targeted advertising, reducing useless advertising and resulting in less spam and more hits. This benefits everyone, including advertisers and consumers. The aggregation of data is inherently safe as it has been stripped of personal identifiers. This type of behaviour helps everyone and should be encouraged, as long as there are adequate safeguards as to the stripping of personal identifiers.
No Separate Identity across Platforms
Counterpoint: If you don’t like it, you’re not forced to use it. If people want to use Google’s free products, there is a price to pay. There are lots of alternatives in the marketplace to Google – go use them if you don’t like it. There’s also more accountability for users in this system, which is important in the wild west of the Internet. Also, it’s quite easy to set up multiple Google accounts, so set up a different account for each service if this is such a problem.
Risk of Data Loss
Counterpoint: You get what you pay for. If you are worried that your browsing habits will be the subject of a massive data loss, pay for your services. Or, as above, set up different accounts for each service to minimize your data exposure.