Google Streamlines Privacy Policy

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As Internet-based privacy concerns gain increased public scrutiny, Google on Friday said it planned to streamline some of its privacy policies to make them more transparent and understandable.

Google, in a company blog post, said it wasn’t undertaking a total transformation of its privacy codes, but rather tweaking policies to make them easier to understand.

“Long, complicated and lawyerly—that's what most people think about privacy policies, and for good reason. Even taking into account that they’re legal documents, most privacy policies are still too hard to understand,” Mike Yang, Google associate general counsel wrote in the blog.

“So we’re simplifying and updating Google’s privacy policies. To be clear, we aren’t changing any of our privacy practices; we want to make our policies more transparent and understandable. As a first step, we’re making two types of improvements,” Yang wrote.

The company will delete 12 individual policies relating to specific products to cut repetition.

“These changes are also in line with the way information is used between certain products—for example, since contacts are shared between services like Gmail, Talk, Calendar and Docs, it makes sense for those services to be governed by one privacy policy as well,” Yang wrote.

The company is also rewriting the Google Privacy Policy to cut down on legal jargon and make it easier to understand.

In addition, Google will add more information to its product Help Centers to explain privacy policies more fully, and initiative Privacy Tools page for the Google Privacy Center. The changes will start October 3.

The move comes as Google and other Web-based companies such as Facebook, are coming in for more and more criticism for their privacy codes.

Also on Friday, an advocacy group called Consumer Watchdog ran an advertisement on the Times Square jumbotron in New York City, criticizing Google for having “lost its way” by recently collecting personal data from unsecured wireless networks as it developed it Street View Service and, and allowing Gmail contacts to become public through its Buzz social networking site.

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