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Google policy changes spark strong reaction

Courtesy of MCT

Google’s new privacy policies have caused some uproar among its users, including several Democrats and Republicans in Congress. But as far as Ohio State students are concerned, there isn’t much to worry about.

The Internet giant announced Jan. 24, it will replace all 60 of its privacy settings, from various Google products and features, with a single, “easy to read” privacy policy beginning March 1.

Also in the new policy, Google will be able to collect and compile certain user information, including search queries, browser language and users’ telephone numbers, based on users’ activity while on Google sites such as YouTube, Gmail and Google Plus.

Furthermore, Google could use the information it collects from users to create customized advertisements and tailor search results to individual users, according to its website.

Users are given the option to opt-out of these services if they choose to keep their browsing activities private.

For instance, when logged into their Google accounts, users can turn off their search histories, thereby disabling Google from collecting personal information while browsing the internet. Users can select the “Incognito” mode, while using Google Chrome browser.

While logged out, Google would not be able to collect data if users are not logged into their Google accounts.

The Google “policies and principles” page also mentions that Google would not sell or share the information it collects with a third-party company.

Brian Ding, a fifth-year in mechanical engineering, said Google’s new privacy settings do not worry him.

“I haven’t really noticed any difference from my normal use of Gmail, so I don’t really mind what they’re changing,” Ding said.

Ding said he considers the new policies a service to all Google users.

“I look at that as Google providing us with a service, honestly. Because if they’re tailoring the Internet for each one of us personally, I view that as a value added to our lives,” Ding said.

Jenna Holvey, fourth-year in dental hygiene, echoed Ding’s response to the new policies and said she has no reservations to the changes given that she is mindful of the amount of personal information she shares on the web.

“I don’t see it as an invasion of privacy because I don’t have anything to hide,” Holvey said. “I’m not accessing sites that are questionable.”

Clay Hedges, a third-year in international studies and manager of the audio visual department at the Ohio Union, said he believes most people “overreacted” to the policies because he says Google’s privacy settings remain the same.

“Rather than having separate policies for each of their services, there’s now one unified policy, meaning that your information is now stored in the same place rather than being stored in 35 separate places, but the actual privacy setting have not changed,” Hedges said.

Paul Murphy, a fifth-year in mechanical engineering, said there is no reason for unhappy users to continue using Google products and features if they feel the new policies are invading their privacy.

“The privacy polices in some ways can be taken as invasive. However, people should remember that Google is a service that you can use for free and you can choose not to use, so the option to not use Google if you’re offended by their privacy or worried about it is always there,” Murphy said.

Murphy also said that in “some cases,” he would prefer Google to collect his browsing data to better serve him.

“If the ads they post are going to be targeted to me in some way, then I may actually enjoy the ads,” Murphy said.

Hedges said he trusts Google’s ability to keep users’ information safe given the company’s track record.

“Their motto is ‘Don’t be evil,’ and I would definitely rather trust that service, who is much more transparent among their changes to the user, than services such as Facebook,” Hedges said.

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