Thursday, February 2, 2012

Google Privacy Changes—good, bad, or ho hum?

Notes taken by: Theresa Payton, Fortalice, LLC. Material also featured in WBTV's segment Protecting Your Cyberturf, featuring Kristen Miranda and Theresa Payton.
Google’s new privacy rules means my data is more private, right?

Google announced recently that they were making it easier for you to understand their privacy policies.  But is it easier to understand and do we have more or less privacy?  Many of you are not sure what to think about how Google treats your information.   

Google has not rolled the new changes in yet but will do so on March 1st.  They said they are eliminating 70 different privacy documents and creating one document across all of their services.   Sounds great, doesn’t it?  How many of you read all 70 documents?  Theresa Payton talks about what she likes about the changes and where she has some concerns.

Why this is a concern.  
1.  There is no obvious “opt out” feature
2.  Cybercriminals will have a new target - trying to tap into the aggregated data
3.  Privacy experts warn that the more they know about you could play into the online offers you receive or don’t receive which would be discrimination

1.  Don’t use Google for everything.  Try out different search engines, browsers, and services.
2.  You can opt out of services like personalized ads by going to your main Google account.
3.  Check your web browser to see if you can block ad cookies and plug ins.  Chrome and the newest version of Firefox help you do this.
4.  If Google Streetview really gives you the creeps, go to their website at and asked for the picture to be blurred through their “Report a Problem” option.
5.  Google allows you to decide what it tracks using its feature called Web History Controls at
6.  You can prevent chat sessions from being logged by Google by choosing their “off the record” options.  Tips on how to do this are at
7.  Choose one browser to open your Google products and a different browser with private browsing turned on for your other products.  This will limit some, but not all, of the tracking.
8.  Go to Google’s dashboard to get a complete view of who Google thinks you are by your internet habits when you use their products at

The Kelihos botnet was temporarily shut down by companies, Microsoft and Kaspersky, but it’s back on the prowl looking for new targets.  At it’s hey day, it was sending 4 billion spam messages a day luring in computer users with pornography, stock tips, and cheap prescription drugs.  

To learn more about the new policy, Google has posted information that you can reference at

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