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Google defends new privacy policy


The Privacy Score website gives Google 85 out of 100

The Privacy Score website gives Google 85 out of 100

The Privacy Score website gives Google 85 out of 100

Google has defended its decision to change the way it handles users' personal data as its new policy comes into force today.

The company will be able to use information about what people are entering into its search engine to target adverts according to users' interests under the changes.

It will collate data to create a single profile for each user across 60 of its services including Gmail and YouTube.

But concerns have been raised over the privacy implications of the move, with the French regulator claiming it may not be lawful.

Peter Barron, head of communications at Google, said the firm was happy to meet with the French authorities to discuss their concerns.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said users could "control and manage" their search histories by opting out or switching them off.

"We have something called Google dashboard and you can go into that and you can change your settings," Mr Barron said.

"If you don't want to receive adverts for recipes, for example, you can opt out of that."

His comments came after a privacy campaigner filed a case at the small claims court for £400 to replace his Android smartphone, which is affected by the changes.

Alex Hanff, who was involved in a campaign against advertising company Phorm, said: "They’ve been asked to suspend the changes several times, and Google keeps telling the regulators where to go.

"They’ve basically stuck two fingers up."

A Google spokesman said: "This updated privacy policy, like the old privacy policy, affects users signed into their Google Accounts on Android phones, the same way as users signed into their Google Accounts from a desktop computer."

The new privacy policy does not mean Google will collect more information about users, but information it gathers via its different web services will be combined for the first time, allowing it to build a more detailed profile of each user.

For instance, data on which YouTube videos a user has watched could be combined with their web search history and Google Maps searches to infer their interests and movements for targeted advertising. The new pools of data will be created for all users with a consumer Google account; companies that use Google Apps will retain control over employees' privacy settings.

Google has emphasised that users can increase their privacy settings before the new policy comes into force. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a US civil rights group, has published a guide.