Quick Steps to Take in Advance of Google's Privacy Policy Changes

By David Ringstrom, CPA
 
If you use any Google products, such as Gmail, Google, YouTube, etc., you've probably been bombarded with a blizzard of "hey, this is important, we're changing our privacy policy" prompts. In theory, Google is simplifying privacy control with a single overarching policy. Cynics, however, may consider this more privacy theater, where we're given the illusion of having control over our actions on the Internet, while companies continue to aggregate even more information about us as individuals.
 
Regardless, if you use Google products on or after March 1, 2012, you'll give them implicit permission to aggregate your web search history, YouTube viewing habits, and other information Google has gleaned about you into a single mega-dossier. Previously, search histories were siloed and controlled by individual privacy policies, but going forward, all your information will be stirred together into a big data soup.
 
If you haven't already done so, it would be a good idea to read Google's new privacy policy.
 
Although you can't stop Google from tracking you in myriad ways, you can prevent your web search history from being automatically added to your dossier:
  1. Log into your Google account: https://accounts.google.com/Login
  2. Next, visit the Google Web History page: https://www.google.com/history/
  3. If a "No Thanks" button appears, your web history isn't being collected. Otherwise, click the "Remove All History" button, and then click OK on the confirmation prompt.

To see step-by-step pictures, visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) DeepLinks blog post on the topic. A second post documents how to remove your YouTube viewing and search history.

According to the EFF, turning off Google's history features doesn't prevent it from gathering information for internal purposes, but collected data is partially anonymized after eighteen months. Although much has changed in the past six years on the Internet, the EFF article Six Tips to Protect Your Search Privacy published in 2006 is now more relevant than before.
 
Read more articles by David Ringstrom. 
 
About the author:
David H. Ringstrom, CPA heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at david@acctadv.com or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner CPE Link.

You may like these other stories...

While reputational risk is the No. 1 nonfinancial concern among corporate directors, cybersecurity/IT risk is gaining steam. In fact, both private companies and organizations with more than $1 billion in revenue felt they...
Many senior US tax professionals believe that a streamlined audit process will be the top benefit resulting from the IRS Transfer Pricing Audit Roadmap, a new toolkit organized around a notional 24-month audit timeline,...
Tax accounting to be simplified for money-market fundsThe US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 3-2 on Wednesday for sweeping changes to institutional money-market funds, Emily Chasan, senior editor of...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Jul 31
In this session Excel expert David Ringstrom helps beginners get up to speed in Microsoft Excel. However, even experienced Excel users will learn some new tricks, particularly when David discusses under-utilized aspects of Excel.
Aug 5
This webcast will focus on accounting and disclosure policies for various types of consolidations and business combinations.
Aug 20
In this session we'll review best practices for how to generate interest in your firm’s services.