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    Washington Post: Google unified privacy settings unsettle users

    The Washington Post takes a look at how Google’s announced privacy policy changes, which face scrutiny from U.S. and international officials, will affect users of its many services, such as Gmail and YouTube.

    Google, I wish I knew how to quit you. That’s the frustration felt by Patience O’Connor, who has put much of her sensitive personal and professional information on Gmail and other Google programs and doesn’t want the company to use that data to create a detailed profile of her.

    O’Connor said she’s overwhelmed by the thought of starting over with a new e-mail service, transferring her contacts, and combing through thousands of messages to retrieve family pictures and legal documents.

    That’s what Google and other Web firms are counting on as they tap consumers for more information about their lives, analysts say. Once you’re hooked on one service, it’s hard to switch. […]

    Google will begin Thursday creating far more comprehensive profiles of its users by following their activities across the company’s Web sites. From videos watched on YouTube to the terms typed in a Google search, tracking such behaviors will enable the firm to sell ads better suited to its customers’ tastes.

    Users won’t be able to opt out. If they don’t like the change, Google has said, they can avoid signing into their accounts or stop using Google products altogether.

    But that’s easier said than done, experts say. For the 350 million people using Gmail around the world, moving to a new e-mail program is perhaps more inconvenient than changing a mailing address or a bank account.

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