Now when signed in, Google will treat you as a single user across all their products, combining information you provided from one service with the others. As Danny Sullivan of Marketing Land puts it, “It’s similar to how you sign-up for Facebook, rather than individual products within Facebook.”
In short, Google will know more about who you are and what you do online. So far, it appears people are reacting to the changes in two ways. Either people are creeped out by all the information Google is collecting or they are embracing the universal data policies that will enable more human-centric interactions with their connected devices.
- Device information: We may collect device-specific information (such as your hardware model, operating system version, unique device identifiers, and mobile network information including phone number). Google may associate your device identifiers or phone number with your Google Account.
- Log information: Telephony log information like your phone number, calling-party number, forwarding numbers, time and date of calls, duration of calls, SMS routing information and types of calls.
- Location information: When you use a location-enabled Google service, we may collect and process information about your actual location, like GPS signals sent by a mobile device. We may also use various technologies to determine location, such as sensor data from your device that may, for example, provide information on nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers.
- Local storage: We may collect and store information (including personal information) locally on your device using mechanisms such as browser web storage (including HTML 5) and application data caches.
I’ll agree that the level of data that Google has access to is a little alarming, but consider some of the proposed benefits that we could experience. Google lists several examples on their site and in a new promotion video that explains the changes.
There’s so much more that Google can do to help you by sharing more of your information with … well, you. We can make search better—figuring out what you really mean when you type in Apple, Jaguar or Pink. We can provide more relevant ads too. For example, it’s January, but maybe you’re not a gym person, so fitness ads aren’t that useful to you. We can provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day. Or ensure that our spelling suggestions, even for your friends’ names, are accurate because you’ve typed them before.Alma WhittenDirector of Privacy, Google
The way I see it, this information sharing could be laying the groundwork for Google’s upcoming voice and artificial intelligence application, codenamed Majel. Not everyone is ready for this Star Trek future where they talk to their personal computer that knows everything about them, but it’s clearly the path Google is on.
Some have proclaimed that this shift marks The End of “Don’t Be Evil”, but I’ll leave that up to you for debate. There are definitely signs that Google is in bed with our government, so I see how individual liberty could be constrained in the event of some national emergency that requires pervasive surveillance. (Call me crazy but fictional stories like Nineteen Eighty-Four and Terminator’s Skynet come to mind.)
For the time being, I don’t see any reason to distrust Google, and I, for one, welcome this universal data sharing strategy. Just remember you can always access your Google Accounts Dashboard to see which personal information is being stored and you can edit your Ads Preferences to alter which ads Google serves you.