Jan 25 AT 12:10 PM Taylor Wimberly 53 Comments

What Google’s unified Privacy Policy means for Android


This week Google announced an upcoming change to their privacy policies that aims to provide a more intuitive user experience across all their products. Starting March 1, Google plans to consolidate more than 60 privacy documents into a single new Privacy Policy.

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.

A preview document of the new Privacy Policy provides some insight on what information is collected and how it will be used. I encourage you to go read the entire document, but here are a few snippets we think are related to Android.

  • 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.

What do you think of Google’s new Privacy Policy? Do you think the changes are good for innovation or is Google becoming evil?

Source: Google

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • spazby

    It’s all good unless it’s all bad

    • Jeff Pan

      Google as such is not evil. But they could be forced by other parties! and that is when it gets scary!

      • Naitsaves

        In my eyes, Google is one of the best companies ever.

    • Richard Yarrell

      Google has offered so many great services that truthfully makes our lives simple. I support all future changes that makes things easier.

  • thekaz

    re: the gov’t … at the time being, I still trust Google to protect my info from the gov’t… I just don’t trust the gov’t to not try and force it from Google in, what is now a term that is loosely thrown around, an “emergency”.

    as far as sharing across services … I thought that was already done…

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      I think some things are already shared like contact lists, but this sounds like they will be sharing everything now.

    • Fulaman

      Yah the government has a lot of corrupt evil people, so I can’t blame you.

    • Slith

      Read Little Brother

    • WarDrake

      Some info has always been shared, and i like that, but this… i love the idea ^_^
      centralized information handling makes things easier and allows for so much more to be done with it.

  • Mark

    Upon a subpoena, all this information is handed over to govt without question. Think about that.

    • AppleFUD

      That’s the sad reality of governments and online life–it’s doesn’t matter if Google centralizes it or not, the gov still can get to it.

  • AceoStar

    Great read. Much better than the fear mongering piece they put on Jizmodo.

    • Thomas Biard

      Yeah, I didn’t want to even touch that conversation over there, which is why I am leaving a comment here.

      People are getting worked up because Google has all your data and they can give it to anyone if they change their policy, so they are suggesting splitting up all your accounts to other sites (like Gizmodo is suggesting). I feel less comfortable with this because then multiple other sites will have a lot of your information, maybe not as much as Google, but enough to still worry you if you let yourself get worried.

      Regarding the subpoena by the gov’t for all your info…whether its on one site or many different ones, they can and will subpoena it from all the different locations if they feel the need.

      I am currently okay with their new policy because they are open about it and not trying to sneak it by. I hope it is for Majel in the near future, but we shall see.

      PS EVERYONE- If you don’t want your information shared, then don’t share it with others. Its your choice, not everyone else’s fault!

      • thekaz

        I mean, I thought the ability to use your info (contacts, calendar, etc) across Google services was a selling point… well, that and cloud-based syncing.. at least, that part of the reason I give people in trying to convince them to get an Android over an iPhone…

      • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Homncruse

        “PS EVERYONE- If you don’t want your information shared, then don’t share it with others. Its your choice, not everyone else’s fault!”

        ^^ THIS. SO MUCH THIS!

  • Alex Belko

    one day we’ll wake up and Google took over the world and nobody will be able to do anything ’cause google know everything about us and control the humanity, and then there be robots, skynet and so on lol)

    • AppleFUD

      I think you wanted to refer to apple lol

      Google. . . yeah, till you just stop using all their online services–they die in one day.

    • Fulaman

      If that ever happened powerful human beings would rise up to fight and defeat these robots.

    • http://www.ndroidgamers.com B2L

      I’m alright with Google taking over the world. (I’ll join their forces.) :)

    • Paul AngryNerd Nunes

      As long as there is an option to delete all your info then I can’t see ANY problem with this. It is so easy to delete your data and leave Google. This is a credit to their respect for data mined from us and our usage. If they do something truly despicable or or seemed posed to do so. We can go ahead and mass delete our own information from their service. This does require a certain amount of trust from us, that this feature will remain and work as advertised. All in all it seems a few rational actions can be taken on our part: Don’t share things with them that you don’t you don’t want them to know. Know that you are engaging in a level of trust with them and remain a little sceptical. In return they are providing leading or near leading products to us for free and finding a highly profitable way of using our collective data in an individually anonymous fashion. This works for us (we get excellent free services), it works for them (it’s highly profitable). Until there are some ridiculous changes to the online landscape that they fail to keep up with – this method will continue to work well. I think so anyway.

      • Alex Belko

        hey guys i’m not against google) you seem too defensive, just parodying paranoid persons ’bout all info they gather to control people)

      • Alex Belko

        by the way, totally agree with you Paul AngryNerd Nunes

      • Kenny

        I agree that it would be ideal if your information could be actually and fully deleted from their system at your whim however this is rarely if never the case with any of these providers. Furthermore, speaking generically in terms of sites/apps you may sign up with, your data is often in turn exported to their popular service providers such as SalesForce who, because multiple organizations likely have loaded your data there, can now correlate and cross-reference across a much larger collection of your information. To what end this information is used I leave up to your imagination but needless to say, once you hit submit on any web form, consider your data permanently exposed to n parties and assume it’s joining a larger centralization of your info/profile. (BTW – the same now goes for photos and videos which are being “parsed” to collect even more data about you, by Google and others).

  • http://youtube.com/user/jawckamoe Marcus

    I think the information being shared from us a little bit much, but I agree with Taylor when he says that we could benefit from all this. It’d be really neat to see what Google has in store.

  • delinear

    This fills me with equal parts wonder and dread. I think it will lead to some pretty amazing developments (can’t wait to see what they do with Majel).

    My biggest wish would be that they instigate some kind of kill switch or at least a reboot switch for this. It would be nice to be able to effectively set your collected data back to zero and start over again. A lot of people, for instance, might not want the stupid stuff they got up to at school to follow them around for the next 60+ years, likewise people who get their accounts hacked or whatever and their reputation trashed might like a way to reset.

  • jwhipple

    Nothing to worry about if people don’t do stupid and illegal crap. I’m sure I’ll get flamed about how big brother will be watching our every move – I really don’t care – I’m doing nothing wrong and I don’t care who knows.

    • god

      Just because something is illegal doesn’t necessarily make it wrong. There are plenty of bogus laws that I don’t abide by. But that’s why I don’t buy my drugs online…well the illegal ones at least haha

  • AppleFUD

    I find it a bit rich how many blogs & gov officials are saying this is a privacy issue and are spreading mass FUD–seems like they just want to go after Google for anything and everything while other companies do so much worse.

    The reality, the information if already there. Google already has it. What, you don’t think they know it’s you because you signed into YouTube with a different login? Get real!

    All this does is make their services a little more homogeneous which, frankly, they need to be.

  • Jeb

    I don’t have any problem with this, unless there is no opt-out option. Sorry but when it comes to privacy, even more so when they want who and when we’re calling people, they need to provide a mechanism to opt-out of the service.

  • Wahagen Khabayan

    well till now i didnt have problem with google products, they were there when i needed. But about this hmmm its hard to say.
    Your data is safe by Google, unless it goes to Goverments hands.

  • yankeesusa

    This is crazy news. It almost makes me rethink owning an android phone. Only problem is that other smartphones like ios and windows os will do this soon or are already doing it. I guess we’ll see what develops. I’m sure the eff will alert us if anything is crazy.

  • xsynth

    I’m ok with this. I definitely prefer one policy than a separate one for each product. Any data shared with them can most likely be found somewhere else on the net already anyway.

    I’d forgotten about Majel as well until you mentioned it, but I agree that this is the beginning of getting the service up and running. Especially when they make comments like “reminding you when your going to be late for a meeting”

  • OOMatter

    Meh, this is nothing. Wait until we figure out how to store ourselves digitally, then we’ll have real privacy issues.

    Referencing Glen Beck makes me seriously devalue your article.

  • ihatefanboys

    It sounds cool to me. Privacy issues are silly anyways. Im not worried about the govt looking at my emails, or text messages. if someone gets off on that, then good for them, i have nothing to hide. Besides with google i love the fact that i can search for something on my laptop, or smartphone, and then try to find it on my GTV version and it shows i already searched for it…its great having that kind of unity….i look forward to what google has in store……bring it on.

  • Hall Lo

    Oh well, Google already has those information, and now their just combining them into one policy for easier management (for them and for us), and for better service. Yea that may also means that the Government can get the information in a more convenient way, but IF the Government really wants to track you down it could have done that already :/

  • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Homncruse

    I for one welcome our Googley overlords.

  • Nathan D.

    I don’t mind the new policy, but it nice to know what the policy means though so thanks Taylor for the info :-D

  • Y314K

    How about giving me more stuff for my data….


    For even half of that amount… Google should give us a free Nexus phone + free Cell & Data services… Guess most of u are happy to get pennies on the dollar for Google’s unlimited access to u’r data…

    Also, Google has political leniency’s/favorites…. Giving them access to free alpha user data products. I bet those that agree or have the same leniency’s as Google don’t mind sharing… But if u don’t… This change in policy is a huge problem…

    If the .gov requests data thru the proper channels then it doesn’t matter which service u give u’r data too… The .gov will get it… But Google wants to combine every aspect of u’r data and share it with who ever pays them for it… And for what… For crumbs… If they still kept an opt-out option then this simplification of their data collection contract wouldn’t matter much… But since they are drawing the line of giving them all u’r data or not using their services… It’s time to start diversifying…

    Giving Google fake or throwaway email info won’t work since they will just match all u’r dummy email accounts to u’r cell phone number… Our cellphone number will come to be out online social security number… And I wouldn’t be surprise if Google figure out how to include out SS in that data pool thru info that is out there… So Goole will have for sale out SS + Cell Phone number + political + sexual + any other tidbit of info we search or share thu there services + address with picture of our residency… Awesome…

    I started to move away from Google by doing all my searches thru https://www.startpage.com/ this month… It’s missing the shopping part of Google.com but that is still better then giving them my info… And I’ll be looking at what other services I still have with them and where I can move them too… I am glad I never jumped on the Google Plus bandwagon….

    I don’t have anything to hide… But I don’t have anything to share either… It’s my data… And it’s Google’s services… So if Google want’s all of my data… They need to really make it worth my while…

    Glad Android Roms… At least the modded ones include a skip Google log in… And one can always go to an alternative Android market… I think this measure will probably push more people to black market solutions for Android Apps…

    P.S. Will it even be possible to lie to Majel if Majel already has all our data… Can’t wait to ask for something and get this in return from Majel 9000: I’m sorry, Y314K. I’m afraid I can’t do that…

  • lokidokie

    I think this is great news. I have nothing to hide, so why would I care?!

  • CTown

    Y’all best be on yo’ good behavior, Google ‘a watchin!

  • Naitsaves

    Google knows more about me than I know about myself 0_0

  • http://k-selezneva.blogspot.com/ KatSelezneva

    I was very surprised when I once visited Android Market and discovered that they know everything about my device and all installed apps. Then, I found out that it was convenient to download apps on my smartphone using PC and WiFi. But I’m still not very enthusiastic about information collectioning. History of one mobile man http://k-selezneva.blogspot.com/2012/01/history-of-one-mobile-man.html

  • Jennifer

    Honestly the only people that need to worry is the ones that volunteeraly gave out too much info online already (which was there choice) and ones doing illegal stuff. Google can’t have information that you don’t put out there and that’s where everyone has a hissy fit. They have too much info about me . . . well you put it up there for them to have. Remember nothing ever goes truly away on the internet. And then oh my god the ‘feds will know things about me! Sorry not sure if the feds really give a shit about a person living in the suburbs that goes to college and work at walmart. I really don’t think so. Now if I was googling illegal substances and how to make bombs quite honestly I think it might be good for me to be taken off the streets, especially if I am that stupid. I think people make it a bigger deal then it needs to be. You put the info out there. You made that choice. Don’t put info up if you don’t want people to know.

  • zee112

    If you use multiple Google services, then Google ALREADY has all this info on you. The only difference now is they will keep it all in ONE database to target their ads at you more effectively. Everyone, please stop sharing so much of your life online.

  • waolc


    Give absolute control over every living soul ….. LC, The Future

  • Forkless

    WHAT DOES GOOGLE WANT WITH MY PHONE # AND LOCATION? ugh this is dumb. I’m throwing out my android!

  • Shawn Clark

    This only shows how much a company really care about its customers. Great if you ask me.

  • EspadaA

    When I went to my dashboard much, I didn’t know they had so much info on me. But its cool

  • vid500

    Ok, when I bought my phone, I knew that when I use google they will store this info,… but this is a bit to much for me, why do they want my call history,… OK I’m rooting my phone and not quit shure what I will use for the mail but with this agremant thay have gone to far. PS: In Europe most of this things that google wonts to do are not eaven legal.
    In my eyes the staitmant “don’t be evil” just doesn’t do it any more.
    Don’t get me wrong I love useing google serices and love android, but I just do not like someone knowing more about me than my self.

  • GC

    a unified policy makes sense. My issue is that when all the accounts are linked if something goes wrong with Google (ie. Disabled account) then they carpet bomb all of your accounts. Silly.

  • Brandon Gray

    Just purchased an android and am taking it straight back. NO WAY do I trust google or any other company with the information they are trying to gather. Once this information is gathered there is no way to erase it – read the PRIVACY statement! They only allow you to control certain public information – not what their servers hold! Google may possibly (just possibly) be benign at the moment – but there is no guarantee they will stay that way nor that governments will not demand access and e willingly given access to our information – either openl y or secretly. Anyone who doubts this has their head in the sand!

    Personally that is why I refuse to go anywhere nbear Apple either – and have now migrated to LINUX and as much open source software as I can. Microsoft is next on my list!

    This Google platform is quite probably another step in the corporate and government desire to document and ltimately have control over the global population. Some people will not see a problem in this, I definately do. Think about 1930′s Mannheim and watch V for Vedetta if you haven’t already – and think about it!