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Google slammed for not proving 'opt out' option for users in new privacy changes

social media Updated: Jan 25, 2012 16:35 IST

Experts have criticized Google over its plans to follow the activities of a person across all of its websites and use the information to alter the person's search results, saying users must have the option to opt out from new privacy changes.

The Web giant announced on Tuesday that it plans to follow the activities of users across nearly all of its ubiquitous sites, including YouTube, Gmail and its leading search engine.

Google would combine data across its Web sites to stitch together a fuller portrait of users and consumers won't be able to opt out of the changes, which take effect from March 1.

The search giant claims that the new policy would help consumers as Google would have a better idea of what the person is interested to know when they type something into the search bar.

According to The Washington Post, consumer advocates, however, said that the new policy might upset people who never expect their information to be shared across so many different Web sites.

"Google's new privacy announcement is frustrating and a little frightening," said Common Sense Media chief executive James Steyer.

"Even if the company believes that tracking users across all platforms improves their services, consumers should still have the option to opt out, especially the kids and teens who are avid users of YouTube, Gmail and Google Search," Steyer added.

The paper quoted US Republican Edward J. Markey, co-chair of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, as saying that "it is imperative that users will be able to decide whether they want their information shared across the spectrum of Google's offerings."

With the changes in privacy policy, Google can collect information about users when they activate an Android mobile phone, sign into their accounts online or enter search terms.

It can also store cookies on people's computers to see which Web sites they visit or use its popular maps program to estimate their location.

According to the paper, the change to its privacy policies come as Google is facing stiff competition for the fickle attention of Web surfers.