Did You Read The Fine Print? (Privacy Policies)

There’s something on the Google home page you probably missed. A teeny tiny link to Google’s privacy policy next to the copyright notice.

You’re probably saying to yourself “Wasn’t that always there?” Nope. It was just added.

Every major web site (including PCMech) has a privacy policy.

For those that want to read the full print: Google’s privacy policy.

Let’s check out a few of the big G’s entries in that policy.

Affiliated sites – We offer some of our services in connection with other web sites. Personal information that you provide to those sites may be sent to Google in order to deliver the service. We process such information in accordance with this Policy. The affiliated sites may have different privacy practices and we encourage you to read their privacy policies.

Translated:

If you get screwed because one of our affiliates makes you promise to give them all your money and your first born son, that’s not our fault.

Another:

If we propose to use personal information for any purposes other than those described in this Policy and/or in the specific service notices, we will offer you an effective way to opt out of the use of personal information for those other purposes.

Translated:

We didn’t define “effective”, so “effective” can mean anything.

The “effective way” of opting out of the use of your personal information is to stop using computers. Seriously.

And another:

We have a good faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to (a) satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request, (b) enforce applicable Terms of Service, including investigation of potential violations thereof, (c) detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues, or (d) protect against imminent harm to the rights, property or safety of Google, its users or the public as required or permitted by law.

Translated:

Google Supervisor: Jenkins! Look at this submitted form. Does this look okay to you?

Jenkins: Uh.. yep. Looks okay to me. I got the faith.

Google Supervisor: Right-o. Moving on…

Yep. Love those privacy policies.

Comments

  1. This elucidates one of my biggest concerns about the internet. All of this “cloud Computing” to me is just a bunch of people making their lives an open book, in a manner in which they will never be able to recover any of it.

    The “privacy policies” that are extant are written in a manner that the average Joe wouldn’t fully comprehend. Now, with some of the new technology like face recognition and tags on Google images and the seemingly lax way all of this info is handled, it is increasingly become very detrimental to put much of anything on the internet.

    I think it was Popular Mechanics that had an excellent article in which they pointed out how things like Facebook, MySpace et al while being great networking tools, they posed significant potentials for privacy violations. Also, they pointed out that while law enforcement requires a warrant to enter your home, the same does not apply to the ‘net. The regulations are a lot more lenient. Add to this the fact that potential and present employers can search for you online and find things that they don’t like, it can have serious consequences for your future. Then combine this with face recognition software and they can do a search based on your face, not just merely your name. This then bypasses usernames to protect your identity.

    Take this into consideration with the fact that search engines cache your search and browsing habits and it is really easy to see how privacy on the internet is a complete fallacy.

    Heck now one can’t even surf anonymously anymore, as most of those are mandated by law to hold records.

    Kinda makes this whole ‘net a big Pandora’s box.

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