A Different View of the New Google Privacy Policies

I thought this post on the Google privacy changes by the uber libertarian technophile Technology Liberation Front was interesting, given that so much of what one reads is of the TIME TO FREAK OUT variety.

Key bits:

Although we have yet to see it play out in practice, this likely means that if you use Google services, the videos you play on YouTube may automatically be posted to your Google+ page. If you’ve logged an appointment in your Google calendar, Google may correlate the appointment time with your current location and local traffic conditions and send you an email advising you that you risk being late.

At the same time, if you’ve called in sick with the intention of going fishing, that visit to the nearby state park might show up your Google+ page, too.

The policy, however, will not include Google’s search engine, Google’s Chrome web browser, Google Wallet or Google Books.

arguable is the operative word. There indeed may be enough significant user backlash that Google backs off. In the last six months we’ve seen at least two instances of rapid market correction–Netflix’s decision not to go through with structurally separating mail and online video rental accounts and Bank of America’s reversal of its plan to charge online banking fees. Both occurred before the government could step in a provide its own (and no doubt clumsy) remedy.

Then again, there’s a significant body of research that suggests that, in spite of their own complaints, users may opt to accept greater benefits and convenience in exchange for more disclosure about their habits. With this mind, it will serve consumers best if companies like Google are allowed to experiment with the privacy paradox to find where actual boundaries are, rather than hamstringing potential innovation by pre-emptively and blindly setting them.

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