Google Legal

Congress wanted answers regarding Google's updated and consolidated privacy policy that goes into effect March 1, and el Goog has responded with a blog post as well as a 13-page letter to eight U.S. representatives.

The long and the short of it is this:

  • Google's not using the updated privacy policy to collect new information.
  • The new privacy policy doesn't let Google sell your information or anything crazy like that.
  • The new privacy policy consolidates dozens of individual policies, with a few exceptions for legal reasons.
  • There are a number of Google services that you can use -- including Chrome, Search and Youtube, to name but three -- that you don't have to be logged in at all to use.

In regards to Android specifically, the good people in Washington asked for the following:

8. Please explain exactly how a user of an Android Phone will be affected by Google’s new policy. Is there any ability for users to opt-out, other than not purchasing and using an Android phone? How will Google’s new policy affect users who do not use an android phone but automatically stay logged into their Gmail accounts on their phones?

Google explained that the new privacy policy doesn't materially affect Android, nor do you even have to have a Google account (or at least be signed in) to use an Android device. That's technically true, of course, but you'll certainly lose some functionality. On the other hand, you have devices such as the Amazon Kindle Fire that have become successful without deep Google integration.

Here's Google's full response to that question:

Our updated privacy policy, like the prior versions, covers users signed into their Google Accounts on Android phones just as it does users signed into their Google Accounts from a desktop computer. So the change will not have any significant impact on users of Android phones, and we are not collecting any new or additional data about Android users in connection with this change.

Users can choose not to log into an Android phone with a Google Account and still use it to place phone calls, send text messages, browse the web and use certain Google applications that do not require account authentication such as Google Maps. Some Google applications such as Android Market and Gmail require authentication with a Google Account.

Be sure to hit the links below and read Google's complete responses.

Sources: Google Public Policy Blog; response to Congress (pdf) 
More: Google's updated privacy policy


Reader comments

Google responds to Congress about its updated privacy policy


> So the change will not have any significant impact on users of Android phones

I wholeheartedly agree: not being able to download applications from the Android Market does not significantly impact Android users.

But how is that different from any other mobile OS? iPhone requires an iTunes account, BlackBerry requires an account, and even WebOS requires a Palm/HP account. So yes it sucks, but every competitor is also doing it.

Maybe Congress should work this hard for things that really matter- like actually passing a budget. Or stabilizing our debt.

I'm pretty sure that they are working harder on budget and debt matters than they worked on drafting 11 fairly simple questions about Google's privacy policy.

You do know that they can do more than one thing at a time, right? This does matter. Maybe not to you, or as much as the other things you listed, but it does matter to a lot of people.

It doesn't allow Google to sell your stuff, but you are giving them a license to USE anything you post to the service (pictures in Picasa or Google~) for free.

So if you see a picture of your daughter in an advertisement for an Android phone...well...tough.

"When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services."

Wow you can read the terms of service... If you do not like the Terms of service then do not use that Service. I personally post very few pictures to my Google+ and I do not use Picasa for the exact reasons you have quoted from their TOS.

Same reason I don't upload pictures to Picasa or Google~. But I thought it was worth mentioning since I'm guessing a lot of people don't know about that. (And, for the record, I can't find similar verbage in Flickr's TOS or Facebook's.)

Except that is completely different. The Yahoo! agreement states that "This license exists only for as long as you elect to continue to include such Content on the Yahoo! Services and will terminate at the time you remove or Yahoo! removes such Content from the Yahoo! Services." (Section 9a) which is what I remember Google used to have, where as the Google license quoted above states "This license continues even if you stop using our Services." Which is what I recall Facebook used to have.

Disclaimer: I haven't read the full Google policy yet, and doing a search for "This license continues even if you stop using our Services" returned 0 results.

the reason I don't think Google should be allowed to do whatever they like with your data - collect your pictures etc. and use it to promote themselves etc. Is that google has a business model based almost entirely upon using publicly funded airways
& landlines (wireless & internet). That means that public concerns trump their business model in areas like privacy.

The answer isn't "if you - Mr customer - don't like it, don't use android!" , it is , instead, "if you don't like it your own wireless, landline and internet infrastructure!"

I don't disagree - ha.

I'm not anti-Google at all and I'm a staunch Capitalist (being a business owner) but, when you use public property you surrender submit to certain restrictions.

I think the biggest problems with the new privacy policy relate to Android devices since:

1. You cannot opt out of this new use of data (which is a huge mistake in my view due to number 2 below...)

2. You cannot easily use an Android phone from Verizon, etc. unless you are logged in to your Google account. Google's full reply to Congress says it is possible to use an Android phone without being logged in, but Verizon is telling me you must be logged in. I agree with Google that you can use many of their services on a computer without being logged in, but not true with a smartphone. You also have a mobile capable of sharing more detailed location data than a computer.

Changing either item would make this easier to accept. I am surprised this point has not been made earlier in the forum. Thoughts anyone?