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.
FAQ: What kind of data can Google collect and integrate? How will this affect me?
The changes comes as Google is facing stiff competition and recently disappointed investors for the first time in several quarters, failing last week to meet earnings expectations. Apple, perhaps its primary rival, is expected to announce strong earnings Tuesday.
Googles 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 youre signed in, we may combine information youve provided from one service with information from other services, Alma Whitten, Googles director of privacy, product and engineering wrote in a blog post.
In short, well treat you as a single user across all our products which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience, she said.
After March 1, a user who has recently watched YouTube videos of the Washington Wizards might suddenly see basketball ticket ads appear in his or her Gmail accounts.
That person may also be reminded of a business trip to Washington on Google Calendar and asked whether he or she wants to notify friends who live in the area, information Google would cull from online contacts or its social network Google+.
Privacy advocates say Googles 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 Googles massive cauldron of data or used for Googles maps application.
Google recently settled a privacy complaint by the Federal Trade Commission after it allowed users of its now defunct social network Google Buzz to see contacts lists from its e-mail program.
Privacy advocates in recent weeks filed a separate complaint that Google deceived consumers by using information from its new social network Google+ in general search results.
Some worry about security. Gmail users, including some White House staff, last year were targeted by hackers who were able to breach the companys e-mail accounts.
Google has also faced greater scrutiny that it is using its dominance in online search to favor its other applications. Googles decision to blend Google+ data into search results has been included into a broad FTC antitrust investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is private.
Engineers from Twitter, Facebook and MySpace responded by launching a Web tool that they say shows Google is moving away from its stated mission to be a neutral Web directory.
On the Web site for the plug-in, the engineers wrote that searches for generic terms such as movies or music prioritize Google+ results over more relevant content.
-- Adopting other people's animosity is The New Stupid.
BUT - they are also giving themselves the right to combine all your info across all products in to one massive database on your internet use. And they are also setting things up so you only can use 1 account across all their products. Again to centralize all info about you. Of course, this is all about making it easier for them to target ads to you. -- The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, I'm from the government and I'm here to help. »www.politico.com/2012-election/
CEO Larry Page .. had this to say to employees at a Friday staff event after the Search Plus Your World launch: This is the path were headed down a single unified, beautiful product across everything. If you dont get that, then you should probably work somewhere else.
Pages words signal a dramatic change in strategy and are oddly reminiscent of Baidu, the Chinese search engine with which Google doesnt normally like to be associated. Baidu has long augmented its search results with promotions and offers from its in house products, in sort of a mix of search and portal approach.
Google built its empire on relevancy, and by giving us results that are doctored, that product is in jeopardy.
They now also include in search, info from anything sent to you on a Google+ acct as well as emails, etc. A health nut friend sent me a link on Vitamin D. A search on Vitamin D by me then returns info in Google+, email, etc. The question is - has Google now saved my search request and the private msg results to further target you for ads?
Using ABP, and NoScript, I never see ads anymore. If I wanted to see ads, I wouldn't use them.
However, being forced to use Google+ really frosts me. I don't care for the social network crapola, and never have. I deleted my FB account as soon as that option was available a few years ago. Until then, it was locked down, and suspended.
Glad I use texting instead of email these days! I never thought I'd say that...
Yeah, I saw that stuff earlier. I just might have to get rid of my Android phone. Hate to see it go, but I am getting tired of Google/YouTube more and more. Unfortunately I have a great channel on YT, and put a lot of time into it with videos and such. But this crap from Google is getting out of hand damnit. I havent got over the fact they are going to change their layout on YT March 1st. That one really pisses me off, along with thousands of others out there. -- Long you live and high you fly, and smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry, and all you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be.
Yeah, I saw that stuff earlier. I just might have to get rid of my Android phone. Hate to see it go, but I am getting tired of Google/YouTube more and more.
And not only that. If you use Maps, there is always intrusive Latitude (share your location with Google in real time), Navigation (requires sending real time route to Google, no off-line support) and other services. And the worst thing is - in Android many of them try to run all the time. For example in my "smart" phone I can't get rid of YouTube, Maps, and others similar. They're just restarted automatically, all the time... Android phone becomes just a tracking device and you can do almost nothing about it. -- Keep it simple, it'll become complex by itself...
Your so right. I use mapquest on my Android (works great), and dont even launch google maps. Well it seems to be running a lot of the times, but I don't use it. I also keep the gps off. (guess that means its off) And also turned off the "use wireless networks" feature.
But for all I know they turn them self's on when they want. Just starting not to be able to trust google much anymore. -- Long you live and high you fly, and smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry, and all you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be.
Updating your android OS version probably won't save you MUCH, even Cyanogen Mod ROMs are still baddddddddddd
For instance in the latest 2.3.7, the openssl version is still 1.0.0.a (latest 1.0.0.f) did Google really patch & update your Android: openvpn users, that 1.0.0a openssl has defects in UDP TLS (DTLS) handling. what security is there for your smartaXX phone......
The WebKit NEVER updates to the latest version (come on Chrome pacthes a lot everyday): Your phone browser will help Big Brother to ROOT you...
You can, but you have to root it, and then firewall it.
OK, rooted HTC Aria. But then when I tired to run firewall (DroidWall) - got the unpleasant surprise - the stock kernel doesn't support iptables (meaning, no firewall). Now I have to find (or to build myself) and load a different ROM, where kernel is specifically built with netfilter module included, just to be able to run a firewall...
Is there any way to run on Android a plain and simple firewall without that hassle? Or the Android OS by its design has to be completely unprotected from any network access? -- Keep it simple, it'll become complex by itself...
the stock kernel doesn't support iptables (meaning, no firewall). Now I have to find (or to build myself) and load a different ROM, where kernel is specifically built with netfilter module included, just to be able to run a firewall...
CyanogenMod supports IPTables natively and I'm pretty sure it isn't locked down.
and Stackoverflow had a 5 step Q&A on the topic. -- Adopting other people's animosity is The New Stupid.
"avast Mofile Security", that I found on the Market, offers a way more modules (8 completely different sub-systems) that I want. And its firewall has only 'allow' or 'disallow' option per application...
And what happened to another recommended firewall - WhisperMonitor? I can't find it on the Market. -- Keep it simple, it'll become complex by itself...
Google is being upfront. Say you love to post videos on youtube maybe even make an ad dollar or many. Set up an account and do it. When doing anything else logout and hide cookies etc. Block any auto login as another user says happens to them.
So, Google knows where you are and what you're doing on Google sites... I don't really see the problem. Haven't they always? (I don't really like much of anything Google has done since introducing Buzz and killing Wave [big bunch of evil-doers], but paying attention to what Google users do on Google sites is a non-issue for me.) -- "Sorry for not responding to your post, but either I haven't seen it yet, or what you said was so devoid of substance that I found it utterly uninteresting."
I think this is all not new. A friend months ago reported that ads she sees in her gmail acct are pulling stuff from her mail to "target" her "interests". From her mail definitely, she doesn't do much google searching. FROM HER MAIL. Really.
For a long time, it's been unnerving to see ads pop up out of nowhere in google that obviously have been tracking my net purchases, not just my net searches (that's been going on even longer and also is disconcerting) but stuff I bought going directly to the vendor's site with no searches in between. The ads are typically for things I've bought or was looking at. I was at one site the other day, and my entire recent order from one vendor was marching past my eyes in an ad! Big Brother is already here. And he's not very bright, since it doesn't make much sense to entice somebody to buy exactly the same stuff they bought two days ago.
So, Google knows where you are and what you're doing on Google sites... I don't really see the problem.
Google has their tentacles on most webpages, including this one. There are scripts from both Google Analytics and GoogleApis running on your computer right now because you are visiting this page (unless you have taken steps to prevent them).
If I understand correctly, Google will soon be combining this data along with cookie data and use of your Android phone data and other sources to follow you around the internet and around the real world too.
Yet when I do not wished to be traced just logout so no issue there either.
Yes, because the session and cookies are the only thing that can identify a user... [/sarcasm]
A user can be traced though various methods. IP addresses don't change like during the days of dialup. And even if they do they are usually within a /22 to /20 block. Then you have browser signatures which are more or less unique. But chances of them being unique within that block are fairly high. Log off from account 1 and login to account 2 from the same IP and with the same browser signature... linking the two accounts is trivial, can also link to your "logged out" activity.