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As Google’s New Privacy Policy Takes Effect, Consumers Union Raises Concerns, Offers Tips for Users

News Release
Consumers Union
Policy and Action from Consumer Reports
Thursday, March 1, 2012

As Google’s New Privacy Policy Takes Effect, Consumers Union Raises Concerns, Offers Tips for Users

WASHINGTON –  As Google rolls out its new privacy policy today, Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, is raising concerns that Google can now create a much more detailed profile about you by combining your data collected from its many services with data from your Google Search and YouTube activity and target you with more ads.

Ioana Rusu, Policy Counsel for Consumers Union, said, “When a company with as many services as Google is collecting so much information across so many services and combining them into a personal file about you,  it naturally raises a lot of questions and concerns.  Some of the most popular sites on the web belong to Google.  If you’re online, one way or the other, you’re going to run into a Google product.  If you don’t like the idea of Google being able to collect your activity on all these different sites into a single dossier, there are some steps you can take to minimize the data that Google gathers about you, but the size and scope of this effort are still troubling.”

To clear your past history of Google searches, you can visit www.google.com/history and click on the “Remove all Web History” button.  The “Pause” feature will allow you to prevent future web activity from being saved in Google’s “Web History” file.

To opt out of personalized ads on Gmail and Google Search, you can go to www.google.com/ads/preferences, click on “Ads on Search and Gmail” on the left hand side of the page, and click “opt out.”

To turn off personalized results in Google Search, click on the gear button located on the right-hand column of your Google Search results page.  Click on “Search settings.”  In the “Personal results” section, select “Do not use personal results.”

An overview of your Google accounts is available online at www.google.com/dashboard.

While taking steps like these can give you some more control over the way Google handles your information, the new policy still makes it easier for the company to combine more of your data from different sites and target you with more ads.

Rusu said, “Right now, there are no broad privacy laws to guide companies like Google when they change their privacy practices.  That’s why we support comprehensive privacy legislation, and we support the White House’s recently-announced effort to develop some rules of the road, which could bring more clarity and certainty to this whole process.”