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Google quietly updates privacy policy to drop ban on personally identifiable web tracking

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Over the past couple decades, Google has established itself as the biggest baddest repository of information on the interwebs. This abundant access to info has sometimes allowed people over-concerned with their privacy to question the integrity of the service. The tech behemoth has always vouched over not tampering with your info, but some new evidence has come to light and that says otherwise.

First reported by ProPublica, Google has quietly altered its privacy policy to include one of the biggest changes that it previously said it would avoid. It is closely related to the widely popular advertisement network DoubleClick, which Google picked up in 2007 to bolster its ad services and stay on top of competition against other search giants.

Though analysts had at the time raised questions about intervention into personal data, but former CEO Sergey Brin cleared the air of doubt surrounding the acquisition. He said that privacy would be the company’s ”number one priority when we contemplate new kinds of advertising products.”

Well, Google did stick to its guns to maintain a clear distinction between the monstrous amounts of web-traffic data and personal information collected via other products such as Gmail, YouTube, and anything that requires your login credentials. But, a recent update to the privacy documents has introduced a discrepancy that violates this pact.

If you look closely at the screenshot of the privacy policy attached below, you’d notice that Google has completely scratched out(red) the last few lines of the same. There are the same lines that protected your precious personally identifiable information from being mixed with massive amounts of online data. The company is no longer maintaining two separate pots of data as it had promised to protect your privacy and security.

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Google has instead substituted those privacy protection deeds with some new language that says that the tech behemoth ‘may combine personal information from one service with information, including personal information, from other Google services.’

This means that the company ‘DoubleClick’ can now access your identifiable information from — let’s say — Gmail to customize ads based on the keywords used inside the e-mail client. This is a huge blow to your privacy as Google can now act as a shadow NSA to build out complete profiles of users based on their names, their emails, the websites they visit, and searches they conduct. In short, Google can now easily snoop and where you’re actually spending time on the internet.

This change to your privacy has been enabled by default for new Google accounts while existing users have been notified to opt-in for the service over the summer. You can change, if you want to, by visiting My Account in the settings pane on the top right of the search website.

Google spokeswoman Andrea Faville has sent out a statement explaining the need for the change. She exclaims,

Our advertising system was designed before the smartphone revolution. It offered user controls and determined ads’ relevance, but only on a per-device basis. This past June we updated our ads system, and the associated user controls, to match the way people use Google today: across many different devices.

Before we launched this update, we tested it around the world with the goal of understanding how to provide users with clear choice and transparency. As a result, it is 100% optional–if users do not opt-in to these changes, their Google experience will remain unchanged.

This was sort-of the last straw standing between your privacy and complete access to every individual’s information. Google could now be referred to as the one technology giant holding the ultimate leverage against (almost) every individual on the face of Earth.

A hands-on guy fascinated by new apps, technologies and enterprise products.

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