Google said Tuesday it will require users to allow the company to follow their activities across e-mail, search, YouTube and other services, a radical shift in strategy that is expected to invite greater scrutiny of its privacy and competitive practices.
The information will enable Google to develop a fuller picture of how people use its growing empire of Web sites. Consumers will have no choice but to accept the changes.
The policy will take effect March 1 and will also impact Android mobile phone users, who are required to log in to Google accounts when they activate their phones. […]
Google’s changes are appeared squarely aimed at Apple and Facebook, which have been successful in keeping people in their ecosystem of products. Google, which makes money by selling ads tailored to its users, is hoping to do the same by offering a Web experience tailored to personal tastes.
“If you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services,” Alma Whitten, Google’s director of privacy, product and engineering wrote in a blog post. […]
Privacy advocates say Google’s changes betray users who are not accustomed to having their information shared across different Web sites.
A user of Gmail, for instance, may send messages about a private meeting with a colleague and may not want the location of that meeting to be thrown into Google’s massive cauldron of data or used for Google’s maps application.