Under the new policy all information entered by users via Google will be indexed together. Google is claiming the shift will help its users search and offer spelling and contextual suggestions. Users should also expect to see a bevy of new, specifically targeted ads catered to their recent searches. Google Books, Wallet and Chrome will be excluded from the policy makeover for legal reasons.
The changes will take effect March 1 according to a post on the company’s blog by Alma Whitten, Google’s Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering. Google has also placed a note on their homepage, allowing users to compare and contrast new and old policies and will send an e-mail message to users explaining the change.
Under the new policy, users will be governed by a single set of privacy policies, whether they are searching for a local hot dog joint, watching cat videos on Youtube, or looking up directions to on Google Maps. Users will be unable to opt-out of Google’s new method of data gathering, so those who object to the policy consolidation may need to take their information elsewhere.
This is just the latest change to be put forward by the search and social media giant. Two weeks ago the company moved to include shares from users’ Google+ friends in its search results. Posts from users’ Google+ friends are now included in searches regardless of whether those who initially shared the post wanted them to be.
Critics claim Google is walking a privacy tightrope. The company settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last year on privacy grounds amidst claims its Buzz product used deceptive tactics. In doing so, the company agreed to submit itself to independent privacy audits for the next 20 years and to better handle the security of its millions of users.