“I'm not ashamed that I shit, but I don't want anyone to see me shitting.”- David Mitchell
Many have derided the search engine for its alleged unethical agenda in harvesting vast amounts of data from users for largely commercial purposes. That the revamped policy will allow for cross-service data exchange between Google products is a major concern amongst critics.
While Google focuses on the idea of user convenience within the Official Google Blog (and to be fair the new system may prove to be highly convenient for many), that the policy enables coherent and comprehensive marketing and re-marketing across all Google services is surely the driving factor for a company whose revenue is dependent upon ad sales.
It would be naïve to pillory a company for trying to make money, but this seems to be a unique case in point. Google already has access to our search history, and can therefore present us with “relevant” advertising when online. This isn't new. The recent changes represent the evolution of Google's online advertising strategy, joining the dots between all Google offerings.
How Does it Affect Us?
While a fair amount of scaremongering goes on all around us regarding not only online security, but security in the wider social context, it is perhaps worthwhile taking a step back and asking, is this a major concern for most people?
We are all different people in different contexts – at work, within our social life, online, with family, and with certain members of our family.
Bearing this in mind, it is then logical that Google – or any other online company - can only ever know one of our many personas amongst many operating in a particular environment. Admittedly, more and more of these personas and environments are coming into contact with each other to a greater extent, largely through the unwavering growth of social media and our universal compulsion to share our lives with anyone who will listen (or in this case visit our profile).
I suppose the main worry is that this state of affairs may result in a restrictive experience; we are being served information based on historical actions. It's like being offered a deep fried pizza every day of the week because I happened to enjoy one the previous Friday night. Of course, I can always decline the tasty treat (if only for the good of my health), or in an online context, sign out of Google. It's that simple.
After all, who wants to live in a future like this:
“So in the future, if you do frequent searches for Jamie Oliver, we could recommend Jamie Oliver videos when you’re looking for recipes on YouTube—or we might suggest ads for his cookbooks when you’re on other Google properties.”- Google Blog
Jesus. Can I have my privacy back please?