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Google love tap

Today, I got a love tap from Google

“Dear Google user, We're getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that's a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google.

If you're signed into Google, we can do things like suggest search queries – or tailor your search results – based on the interests you've expressed in Google+, Gmail, and YouTube.

We believe this stuff matters, so please take a few minutes to read our updated Privacy Policy and Terms of Service at http://www.google.com/policies. These changes will take effect on March 1, 2012.”

I don’t have a Gmail account, I thought. I don’t even use Google search because it tacks and logs every inquiry. How could Google have my company email address and consider me a user?

A quick search of my own database of passwords, email accounts and contacts showed that in fact, I do (did), have a Gmail account.

When my company provided me an Android phone two years ago, I had to sign up for Gmail so I could purchase applications. I’d totally forgotten about it. Now that I have an iPhone, I have no need for a Gmail account.

This personal contact with Google, plus the barrage of news and uproar about how Google is now replacing some 60 user private policies with an all encompassing version caught my attention. Perhaps I shouldn’t care because I don’t use the Gmail account or Google search. But, plenty of others are concerned about the company’s merging of user data across many products. The Internet blogs are replete with the sky is falling, and Google is evil type comments.

Pushing back, Google’s Director of Engineering for Google Analytics, Paul Muret, said on Tuesday, “You may have already heard that Google is rolling out a new main privacy policy on March 1. With these changes, the privacy policy will be easier to read, and will help us create one beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google products and services. The new privacy policy makes it clear that if you’re signed in, we may combine information you've provided from one service with information from other services - helping us treat you as a single user across all our products.”

He continues, “If you're signed into Google, we can do things like suggest search queries – or tailor your search results – based on the interests you've expressed in Google+, Gmail, and YouTube.”

Hold on a second. Just because I once clicked on an article about some starlet’s new movie using RED cameras doesn’t mean I want to see gossip links about her latest Hollywood escapades listed in search results.

Lest you think Google is the only one wanting to track you, today the Hawaiian House of Representatives has scheduled a hearing on a new bill (PDF) requiring the creation of virtual dossiers on its residents. The measure, H.B. 2288, would require ISPs to record "Internet destination history information" (every click where you go on the Internet) and "subscriber's information" (precisely who you are). That data would have to stored for two years.

Even Obama’s DOJ has yet to require Internet Service Providers keep a record of every web site you visit. So far the DOJ is lobbing just that ISPs record Internet Protocol addresses assigned to individuals—your IP address.

Before someone think that it would be too expensive to store all of this data, consider this. According to a December, 2011 report from the Brookings Institute, by John Villasenor, the information identifying the physical location of each of one million people to an accuracy of 15-feet, at 5-minute intervals, 24 hours a day for a full year could easily be stored in a 1TB drive, at a cost of about $50 at today’s prices. To record this information about 50 million people, the cost would be under $3000.

I admit to being more on the side of “They are out to get me” camp than some others. But anytime a corporation or someone from Big G says they’re here to help, my guard is raised.

Google may not be quite as large as Big Government, but from this desk, it’s starting to act like it is.

Count me Google gone.

Are you concerned? Will you still use Google products? Leave a comment below or reply at editor@broadcastengineering.com