Last week, Google announced changes in its privacy policies that will affect users of its services, such as search, Gmail, Google+ and YouTube. Advocates and legislators questioned the changes, saying that there were privacy issues, and criticized the Internet services giant (Congress pdf; archive pdf) for not including an opt-out provision; Google said that users who objected could stop using its services and move their data elsewhere.
“We’re not collecting more data about you. Our new policy simply makes it clear that we use data to refine and improve your experience on Google–whichever products or services you use,” Google said at the time. “This is something we have already been doing for a long time. We’re making things simpler and we’re trying to be upfront about it. Period.”
But several lawmakers, including Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), saw things differently. And in their letter to Google, they said that “consumers should have the ability to opt out of data collection when they are not comfortable with a company’s terms of service.”
“If a user is signed in, she can still edit or turn off her search history, switch Gmail chat to “off the record,” control the way Google tailors ads to her interests using our Ads Preferences Manager, use Incognito mode on Chrome, or use any of the other privacy tools we offer.”
Our users can use as much or as little of Google as they want. For example, a user might have a Google Account and choose to use Gmail, but not use Google+. Or she could keep her data separated with different accounts – for example, one for YouTube and another for Gmail.