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Google has consolidated its privacy policies so that data held in separate product accounts will now be merged into one.
It means that when signed in, a user’s data will be shared across Gmail, YouTube, Google+, Maps and search.
A blog post announcing the change said Google will “treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”
In practice it says this will mean users get better search results and more relevant ads – which is probably what the updates boil down to.
Google has a huge amount of personal data on its users, but at the moment it is siloed, to an extent, in its various different services.
By combining the wealth of personal data it already holds, Google is enhancing its ability to run targeted ads which allows it to compete with Facebook, which already shows ads based on a users’ interaction with brands.
The update is sure to raise questions about Google’s use of private data which has been under scrutiny in the US and Europe for years.
For example, the blog post says Google will now be able to “provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day.”
Not all users will be comfortable letting Google take such control over their lives, despite its claims that it is trying to “help you by sharing more of your information.”
But as the changes will be rolled out worldwide in March, anyone with a Google account will need to get used to their data being freely shared across all its different products.