In blog post published Tuesday, Google privacy director for products and engineering Alma Whitten announced the upcoming change, characterizing it as a way for Google to offer a better user experience.
By connecting data gathered from various services, Google might be able to target Google Offers based on where you use your Android phone or present ads influenced by information in Google Calendar entries, for example.
[ Google's competitors don't like the way Google is tying its services together. Read Google Foes Fighting Social Search Ignore One Truth. ]
For Google users, pretending to read only two tracts of legalese should be far less taxing than pretending to read several dozen.
Critics of the change have been quick to question Google's decision. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a blog post that he's troubled by the lack of an opt-out mechanism.
"The lack of opt-out means users cannot pick and choose which data they want integrated into their Google profiles," he wrote. "Private email messages might contain any number of personal, embarrassing, or otherwise damaging information, and Google's attempts to amplify and contextualize this information through targeted ads, Maps suggestions, or Calendar reminders could have negative consequences for users."
"Before, you could choose to disclose information with one Google service and not with another," he said. "And this information wouldn't all be combined into a single profile of who you are. Now that's no longer the case."
Security researcher Matt Blaze offered his own interpretation of Google's announcement on Twitter: "'Be Evil' is a simplified and easier to understand version of 'Don't be Evil.'"
But the message heard by hundreds of millions of people who participate willingly in free social networks and avail themselves of free communications tools and online services is likely to be "Paid For By Your Data."
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