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Google’s Policies: 6 essential must-knows

Some say the biggest lie told online is ‘I agree.’  So what exactly are we lying about? Services in Action has been reviewing the privacy policies and terms of use of companies whose software services are used every day. The purpose of this exercise, besides diving deep into some fascinating material, is to know exactly what commitments are in place when we invest our information in a third party.
We’re scouring these documents so you don’t have to. Part two of this series focuses on Google.
Google’s services are numerous including Gmail, YouTube, search, chrome, analytics, and android products. Many of these services are relied on as key features of a business model.  Certainly this is the case for Services in Action. So what exactly are we entitled to in this vital relationship?
Google is clear about their policies and terms of service, the only trouble is there are many links driving the reader away from the main document which can cause the reader to question if their ‘choose your own adventure’ version of their policy is the most fulsome. Nonetheless, the information is easy to access and read, provided you have the time (and inclination). Assuming you don’t, here it is –six essential points:

  1. Google will aggregate all your data into one place to create a customized experience.
    • Any information you provide Google (either directly when you set up an account, or indirectly like the language you use to search, services you have install or uninstalled, email content, and other information regarding your technology and location) is collected and stored. This information is used to customize your experience –including advertising, search results, sharing, and connections. For example, if you search for a product, you’ll see ads for that or other similar products.
    • Information not provided by you, the user, may be accessed with cookies or other similar technologies. For example, information about the YouTube videos you watch are is collected and stored along with the other data included in you Google account.
    • All information collected about you is stored in your account and is treated as private. You can access, change, or delete the information in your account unless Google has to keep it due to business or legal reasons, or if it would require a disproportionate effort.
    • Your name is used across all Google platforms, your name may replace previous names associated with your account. If someone else uses your email or other information that identifies you, they may see your public account information, like name and picture.
  2. When you interact with Google services information may be gathered regarding that interaction and shared with partners via Google Analytics or advertising services.
  3. Information may be stored locally on your device or anywhere in the world.
  4. Your information may be shared with a third party for external processing or to comply with legal requests. It is also shared with a domain administrator if, for example you’re a Google Apps users.
  5. The information you store, upload, submit, send, or receive through Google remains your intellectual property, but may be used by Google to “use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works, communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, and distribute such content.
  6. Any changes to Google’s policy will be posted. Google will notify users regarding more significant changes to the policy or if Google is involved in any mergers, acquisitions, or asset sales.

If you’re interested in managing the information stored in your account or to learn more about the collection and storage of information and how that affects the user you can visit Google’s Safety Centre: