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Google to unify privacy policy across products
Reuters
January 25, 2012
First Published: 13:05 IST(25/1/2012)
Last Updated: 16:36 IST(25/1/2012)
An employee rides her bike past a logo next to the main entrance of the Google building in Zurich.Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann
Google Inc (GOOG.O) plans to unify its privacy policy and terms of service across its online offerings, including its flagship search, Gmail and Google+ products, to make them easier to use, but the move could attract greater scrutiny from anti-trust regulators.

In an online blog post, Google said it expects to roll out the revised guidelines in over a month's time, consolidating more than 60 separate privacy policies it uses for its online products.

Google currently has more than 70 privacy policies covering all of its products.

Right now, users of Google products have to agree to a new set of privacy policy and terms of services almost every time they sign up for a new service.

This leaves them with an option to opt out of certain services like Google+ or Picasa.

After the new policy comes into effect, user information from most Google products will be treated as a single trove of data, which the company could use for its targeted advertising dollars, raising potential red flags for anti-trust regulators.

"If you're signed in, we may combine information you've provided from one service with information from other services," Google's director of privacy, product and engineering, Alma Whitten wrote in blog post.

"In short, we'll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience."

The announcement comes days after Google's decision to personalize its search feature drew criticism over privacy and anti-trust issues.

Online privacy has come under scrutiny from anti-trust regulators as a handful of web giants have been accused of compromising user privacy to attract advertisers.

Late last year, Facebook settled with the U.S. FTC agreeing to be regulated for a period of 20 years whenever it decided to change its privacy policy.

In 2010, the FTC settled charges with Twitter, after the agency alleged that the social networking service had failed to safeguard users' personal information.

U.S. regulators are reportedly looking into whether Google manipulates its search results to favor its own products and have expanded the probe to include Google+.

"Regulators globally have been calling for shorter, simpler privacy policies - and having one policy covering many different products is now fairly standard across the Web," Whitten said in the post.

The revised policy will take effect on March 1, the blog post said.

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