Google says it will unify the privacy policies and terms of service across its online portfolio in a bid to make them easier to understand.
According to Google, the move could help stave off attention from privacy regulators that have been calling for more clarity from companies, but greater integration of features could worry privacy campaigners.
“Despite trimming our policies in 2010, we still have more than 70 (yes, you read right… 70) privacy documents covering all of our different products,” said Alma Whitten, the company’s director of privacy for product and engineering in a blog post.
There is no way a user can comprehend the implication of Google collecting across platforms for information about your health, political opinions and financial concerns
“This approach is somewhat complicated. It’s also at odds with our efforts to integrate our different products more closely.”
The company said the new policy would allow it to share data across its products more easily, and enable services to link data for personalised services.
“For example, 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.”
However, with no option to opt out, some privacy experts believe the amalgamation is a step too far, with end users potentially being surprised that habits on one Google service could be reflected on another.
“Google’s new privacy announcement is frustrating and a little frightening,” James Steyer, chief executive of privacy rights group Common Sense Media told The Washington Post
“Even if the company believes that tracking users across all platforms improves their services, consumers should still have the option to opt out — especially the kids and teens who are avid users of YouTube, Gmail and Google Search.”
Despite Google’s stated intentions, the company’s access to data – from Android activations to search terms – could actually lead to increased scrutiny from regulators.
“There is no way anyone expected this,” Jeffrey Chester, executive director of privacy group Center for Digital Democracy, told the Post.
“There is no way a user can comprehend the implication of Google collecting across platforms for information about your health, political opinions and financial concerns.”