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What You Need to Know About Google’s New Terms of Service

Google created quite a stir about a month ago when it released its new Terms of Service. Businesses are known to regularly update such terms, but Google’s new Terms included the addition of the phrase claiming that, “Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.” Yes, this can definitely raise a few eyebrows.

Google has explicitly stated that they are analyzing emails that you send and receive, but it is only in the name of advertising. This may be true, but many consumers are now even more engaged about the security of their information stored with Google since this announcement.

How does this all affect you?

  • If you use Gmail, you probably won’t notice any changes. Nothing about Gmail’s performance should change with Google’s automated content analysis.
  • If you use Google Drive, the good news is that you retain all the rights to your files. Google states, “We do not claim ownership in any of your content, including any text, data, information, and files that you upload, share, or store in your Drive account.”
  • You may need to create an independent Google account to access some of the services that Google provides.
  • If you are using a Google service, they may collect information such as location, when you accessed the service, device information, phone number, and server information.

If you are uncomfortable with your security across the Google platform, there are a variety of things you can do to mitigate your exposure. By accessing the Google Dashboard, you can view all personal information that you have stored on Google. From the dashboard you can edit and remove the information that you don’t want, and if you don’t want someone else to see certain information, you can make it private.

Google’s Terms of Service can seem alarming, but general updates to Terms of Service are a normal course of business. In regard to this latest change, Google insists that their use of your information does not go further than advertising. If you still feel uncomfortable with their new policy, take some time to review your Google profile and take full advantage of any privacy settings that Google offers.