Silver Chips Online

Be careful what you search for

Google's new privacy settings publicize users' privacy.

By Hannah Lynn, Online Managing Editor
February 29, 2012
Privacy isn’t private anymore. All Internet users should be aware that websites that store personal information, such as Facebook and Gmail, allow you to control your privacy settings. Sometimes, you don't want to give away all your personal data to the vast wonderland that is the Internet. But at what point does it become a violation of privacy for sites to track all of our habits?

Google is getting rid of over 60 privacy settings, making it easy to track everything users search. Courtesy of telegraph.co.uk
Google is getting rid of over 60 privacy settings, making it easy to track everything users search.
Google's privacy settings are changing as of Mar. 1. These new changes will allow the company to track users' personal information gathered from Gmail, Internet searches and any videos watched on YouTube. For many people, using Google services is part of everyday life. After all, Google contains the most popular search engine, email system and video streaming service on the web. However with these new settings, Google can use its users' information to provide user-specific ads. On top of that, Google will not allow users to opt out of the privacy changes, something that seems like a move from notorious Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Gmail and the Google search engine have been filled with messages of the impending changes and, in all fairness, Google has given fair warning. The notification stated that searches will only be tracked if users are logged on to their accounts. But is anyone really going to take the time out to log off just to search for a fact or information?

Some might argue that there's no harm in Google gathering information about its users and that these changes are just another tactic for advertisers to target specific audiences. Besides, gathering information based on what you search can't do much harm since it isn't necessarily personal information. Yet, something doesn't feel quite right about Google using information from our sent emails to target advertisements on other websites. This is concerning not only because there's no option to change these new privacy settings, but also because many Google users are minors. Children who use the Internet shouldn’t to be subjected to Google tracking their every move.

It's not so much the idea of having ads targeted to users that's disturbing (most of us don’t event take a second glance at the ads anyway), it's the fact that Google can and will use any personal information we provide. Everything we search, watch and email is going to be tracked by Google and used to create ads that we’ll see while searching, watching and emailing. The Internet may have a foggy definition of what constitutes as an invasion of privacy, but this seems like one of those instances.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/11453