Google & Your Privacy

So over the Christmas holidays, Google added a feature to Google Reader that caused some privacy concerns.  While I’m not sure why everyone was in such a fit about it, because the feature was in fact called “Shared Items” so I don’t understand how that could be mis-interpreted.

But now there are rumors that Google is going to implement a Facebook News like feed for your Gmail contacts.  Many people are comparing this to both Facebook and Plaxo (a contact management website that allows you to sync your contacts and ask them update their contact info).  Plaxo is taking a little more heat for it’s Plaxo pulse which allows you to add things like your blog, your Flickr account, Twitter, and even your Amazon Wishlist to the pulse and have it send out updates to your contacts.  Why Plaxo is taking the hit for this, again I do not understand.  For one thing you have to actually opt-in for the service and two your friends have to “connect” with you to receive your pulse updates.  So both sides have to opt-in for it to work.

Now there is no word on if there is going to be an “opt-out” switch on this new Gmail contact news like feed, but I’m sure there will be.  But what has me a little annoyed is everyone freaking out about Google with regards to their data.  First off, Google has done very little (if anything) that is considered “evil” with your data.  Secondly, if you actually read the terms of service on several Google products you’d be surprised what they might be allowed to someday do.  By simply using Google products you are allowing them to look at and possibly use any data they can off of you.  Heck, Google does read your email but only so it can show Adsense ads that go along with what the email your reading is about.

Google pretty much controls the internet.  If you are like me, and use their products, they probably have a good amount of data on you.  Does this mean they are going to spread it out all over the internet?  Not really.  I think people are making a big deal about nothing with these issues.  Especially in comparing Google to Plaxo.  Plaxo’s terms of service is really creepy, more so than any of Google’s.  If you are really worried about what companies are going to be doing with your data, then you should start reading the terms of service and license agreements more frequently.  You might find out that you really just shouldn’t be storing personal data on the internet.

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