Google wants ability to 'combine' your user data
Beginning March 1, the activities and data of a Google user who is signed in will be used to provide a "simpler, more intuitive" experience for users across all the Google services, according to a post on the Official Google blog.
For instance, Google searches may take into consideration context of searches based on the user information and activities, such as knowing that an import car buff would want "Jaguar" the car rather than the big cat of the same name, a video in the post explains. And auto-correct may suggest spellings when a user is typing in Google Docs or Gmail based on prior content they have created.
"It may even be able to tell you when you'll be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and local weather conditions," the video says. "All of which means we're not just keeping your private stuff private. We're making it more useful to you in your daily life too."
It's unclear exactly what Google can do with user data that it couldn't do before. Google already can do some of this cross-pollination. "Today we can also do things like make it easy for you to read a memo from Google Docs right in your Gmail, or add someone from your Gmail contacts to a meeting in Google Calendar," the post says.
Not every product is included in the main privacy product. For instance, Google Books, Wallet, and Chrome will retain their own policies, according to this FAQ.
Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), expressed concern that the changes would lead to further erosion of user privacy.
EPIC has been critical of previous Google announcements, sending letters to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission about Google Buzz and. last year with an agreement that requires Google to establish a comprehensive privacy program, to undergo independent audits of its privacy practices for 20 years, and to make new features opt-in if they provide additional sharing of certain types of private information.
Updated 3:30 p.m. PT with FAQ information on three services that will have their own privacy policies.