Google offers a wide range of services including the following: Google search, Maps, YouTube, Gmail, Google Earth, Reader, Mobile, Chrome and Reader.
- disabling Web History. This will not prevent Google from gathering and storing data and using it for internal purposes. It does however prevent the information gathered from a user’s searches being combined with data from other services and means that it will be made partially anonymous after 18 months.
- using Google Dashboard to edit advertisement preferences. Using the Ads Preference Manager a user can either choose which type of adverts they receive by selecting categories, or can click ‘opt out’ to prevent tailored adverts altogether. This opt out does not stop or reduce the adverts a user will be exposed to it simply ensures that adverts are not customised. Importantly this ‘opt out’ does not stop the amalgamation of data across Google’s services or stop information being stored.
- logging out. An account user can log out of their account and then use the Google services to avoid being tracked or use separate accounts for different services. This however makes for a clumsy, less user friendly service.
- blocking cookies. By blocking cookies the user will not leave a data trail; this may cause problems in using the services.
Even if users take the measures listed above Google can release that personal data to external bodies in certain circumstances which are listed in the policy itself. For example, Google can release a user’s data when it ‘is reasonably necessary to meet any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request’.
Users and user groups are concerned at the data map the company will have, describing, analysing and identifying them in considerable detail despite Google’s claims that the new process streamlines and simplifies its privacy policies. CNIL flags that this simplification is welcome but should not be done at the expense of transparency and comprehensiveness for users. CNIL’s investigation into the policy continues.