Google's Policies and PrinciplesFrom the 1st of March 2012 Google is introducing a new one-size-fits-all privacy policy. Or as they’re headlining it ‘One policy, one Google experience‘. By continuing to use Google products from that date you will be accepting this policy. There will be no ‘please read then tick if you accept’ method here, which is more commonly used by the likes of Apple and PayPal when they update their terms of service or privacy policies.

On starting to read the page explaining the reasoning behind the move from sixty policies to one, it becomes very clear that the language being used is that of promotion, aiming to convince readers that this is a good idea. In and of itself this is interesting, and perhaps show some insecurities that Google may have in what they are doing.

The language used emphasises ease and simplicity:

  • “We’re getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read.”
  • “Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google.”
  • Easy to work across Google – Our new policy reflects our desire to create a simple product experience that does what you need, when you want it to.”
  • Easy to share and collaborate – When you post or create a document online, you often want others to see and contribute. By remembering the contact information of the people you want to share with, we make it easy for you to share in any Google product or service with minimal clicks and errors.”

But as with any good advertising they seem to be introducing and solving a problem that perhaps customers never knew existed.

By using Wordle we can quickly compare the language of the existing main privacy policy with the privacy policy that will come in to place on 1 March.

Existing Google Privacy Policy
Words of the existing Google Privacy Policy until 1 March 2012

Google Privacy Policy from 1 March 2012
Words of the Google Privacy Policy from 1 March 2012

Whilst these diagrams are hardly scientific (and I would be fascinated to read a proper language analysis of both documents and the rationale page) it is interesting to note the possible decrease in the use of the word ‘privacy’ in the latest policy. The word ‘security’ also features considerably less in the latest document – for those who might not be able to see it at first, it appears above the word ‘use’, top centre.

Google provide an archive of previous policies and version changes here, a practice which they seem to have started in 2004 (see last section) and one I hope they continue.

In 2005 they introduced a phrase in the last section of the policy: ‘We will not reduce your rights under this Policy without your explicit consent[…]’. In the current and new versions of the policy this is a stand alone sentence.

In creating one policy it may, even in the simplest terms, combine your personal and professional use of their services, let alone create much more complex problems that subtle differences and uses of all sixty previous policies perhaps necessarily resolved.

So based on their own policy the question arises: have Google reduced your rights and are you able to give your explicit consent?