Google privacy changes have left users 'confused, worried and cynical'

Google's handling of the changes to its privacy policy has left users 'confused, worried and cynical', according to one comms chief.

Google: private data can now be shared with its other platforms
Google: private data can now be shared with its other platforms

The policy change, implemented on Thursday, means private data collected by one Google service can now be shared with its other platforms including YouTube, Gmail and Blogger.

Google said it believed the new policy complied with EU law. However, the EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding has stated in the news today that the privacy changes are in breach of European law. She told the BBC: ‘Transparency rules have not been applied.’

Ogilvy PR EAME MD Michael Frohlich commented on Google's media handling: ‘People are confused, worried and cynical about the real reasons for the new policy, with pressure groups adding to the furore.

'Google needs to be fast and transparent and help users understand the journey and evolution of how we share and search for our information today and in the future.’

However, David Vindel, Ketchum Pleon MD of European technology, said: ‘Google has certainly been informative on blog posts and on its web pages encouraging people to read further on the changes and is certainly not hiding anything.

‘The real issue is that the Data Protection Directive needs updating, because the information and data landscape has dramatically changed with the advent of the Internet, social media, digital channels and wireless technology. A public private partnership where companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and others work more closely with Governments on data privacy is surely the best way forward.’

The media organisation has been handling the comms around the changes in-house, which has seen EMEA director of external affairs Peter Barron giving interviews to major news channels such as the BBC, Sky and ITV.

A spokesman for Google explained that the process of communication started in January, when it started emailing Gmail users with the news, included the news on the home page and on banner ads, and briefed the data protection authorities.

A Google spokesman said: ‘This new, simpler approach will make it easier for users to understand our privacy practices, and it reflects our desire to create a simpler, more intuitive experience across Google by integrating our different products more closely for signed-in users.’

Speed Communications MD Stephen Waddington added: ‘Google communicated the changes to its services clearly but has faced a backlash because there is no opportunity to opt out from personal information being shared across difference services and thus avoid targeted advertising.

‘It’s unlikely that Google will see a mass exodus of users. Its services are simply too fundamental to the web. Privacy is dead on the web. Sharing your personal information is the price that you pay to access free services on the social web.’

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