Mar 28, 2008

Google privacy, ever read it?

Did you know for instance that if you're under 18 you're not allowed to use any Google services - at least in the US, Google says you're not allowed to use their services if you don't have the legal age to form a binding contract, and in US that legal age is 18. Or that when you use Google Talk they record whom you're talking with, and what files you're exchanging?

Well, Google seems to be structuring lately their privacy policies, and now they've groupped them for easy access. Plus, they seem easier to read too. Below are some links to the privacy policies, as well as small excerpts about what they record when you're using that particular service, parts that I considered to be interesting.

Google Talk Privacy Policy
"When you use Google Talk, we may record information about your usage, such as when you use Google Talk, the size of your contact list and the contacts you communicate with, and the frequency and size of data transfers. Information displayed or clicked on in the Google Talk interface (including UI elements, settings, and other information) is also recorded."

Google Desktop Privacy Policy
"Your copy of Google Desktop includes a unique application number. When you install Google Desktop, this number and a message indicating whether the installation succeeded are sent back to Google. Also, when Google Desktop automatically checks to see if a new version is available, the current version number and the unique application number are sent to Google." "...If you choose to enable Search Across Computers, Google will securely transmit copies of your indexed files to Google servers in order to provide the feature."

Google Privacy (main)
"Like most Web sites, our servers automatically record the page requests made when users visit our sites. These "server logs" typically include your web request, Internet Protocol address, browser type, browser language, the date and time of your request and one or more cookies that may uniquely identify your browser."

Google Docs Privacy Policy
"Google's servers automatically record certain information about your use of Google Docs. Similar to other web services, Google records information such as account activity (e.g., storage usage, number of log-ins, actions taken), data displayed or clicked on (e.g., UI elements, links)." "...Google Docs stores, processes and maintains your documents and previous versions of those documents in order to provide the service to you."

Google Gmail Privacy Policy
"Google scans the text of Gmail messages in order to filter spam and detect viruses, just as all major webmail services do. Google also uses this scanning technology to deliver targeted text ads and other related information. This is completely automated and involves no humans." "...Google keeps multiple backup copies of users' emails so that we can recover messages and restore accounts in case of errors or system failure, for some limited periods of time. Even if a message has been deleted or an account is no longer active, messages may remain on our backup systems for some limited period of time."

Google Ads Privacy Policy
"If you have a DoubleClick cookie in your Cookies folder, it is most likely a DART cookie. The DoubleClick DART cookie helps marketers learn how well their Internet advertising campaigns or paid search listings perform. Many marketers and Internet websites use DoubleClick’s DART technology to deliver and serve their advertisements or manage their paid search listings. DoubleClick’s DART products set or recognize a unique, persistent cookie when an ad is displayed or a paid listing is selected. The information that the DART cookie helps to give marketers includes the number of unique users their advertisements were displayed to, how many users clicked on their Internet ads or paid listings, and which ads or paid listings they clicked on."

Google Apps Privacy Policy
"...your domain administrator may: Access or retain information stored as part of your account, including your email, contacts and other information..."

Blogger Privacy Policy
"Google stores and maintains your account information and copies of your weblog posts and comments, including drafts, in order to provide the service."

Google Calendar Privacy Policy
"We may record information about your usage of Google Calendar, such as when and for how long you use the service, the frequency and size of data transfers, and the number of events and calendars you create. Information displayed or clicked on in your Google Calendar account (including UI elements, ads, links, and other information) is also recorded for the purposes described below. Every ninety days, if not more frequently, we permanently delete usage statistics associated with your use of Google Calendar. We retain this information beyond 90 days in aggregate form only." "...You can create multiple calendars, each of which contain events. The events on each calendar and all content associated with an event — including but not limited to information such as comments, guest responses, and descriptions — are stored and maintained on Google servers."

FireFox Extensions Privacy Policy
"When you use the Google Send to Phone Extension, Google will log the IP address where the message originated, the carrier name and the phone number. We do this to operate, develop and improve our services. We also occasionally log the text that is sent, in order to investigate and correct technical problems."

Google Groups Privacy Policy
"Google collects and maintains information about your account activity, including the groups that you join or manage, lists of other members or invitees in the groups, messages or topics you track, custom pages you create or edit, ratings you make, and your preferred settings when using Google Groups."

iGoogle Privacy Policy
"Some iGoogle sections are provided by third parties, who may receive and process your requests and preference settings for that section in order to provide their service. In some cases, other information including one or more of your Google cookies may also be technically available to the third party, although third parties are prohibited by contract from accessing your Google cookies or other information unrelated to the section they provide. When you add one of these sections to your page, we will let you know. Use of your information by these third parties is not governed by this Privacy Policy." "...We may share aggregate statistics about iGoogle usage with our business partners. We will not share personally identifying information with these partners or any third parties, without your consent, except under the narrow circumstances described in the Google Privacy Policy."

Google Ads Privacy Policy (additional info)
"Google will record some limited information each time you view an ad. An example of such a record looks like this:
time: 0x431d2c87beb40
ad_placement_id: 105
ad_id: 1003
userid: 0x11da016337ba6232
client_ip: 0x480ee301
referral_url: "

Google Toolbar Privacy Policy
"Nearly all versions of the Google Toolbar (except for Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer versions lower than 4.0) include one or more unique application numbers. These unique application numbers are required for Google Toolbar to work and cannot be disabled. When you install or uninstall Google Toolbar, the numbers and a message indicating whether the operation succeeded are sent back to Google. In addition, the Google Toolbar periodically contacts our servers to request automatic updates to the latest version, and as part of this request sends the unique application numbers along with optional Toolbar usage and configuration statistics."

Google Video Privacy Policy
"Google takes steps to protect copyrighted content by embedding the Google Account information of the person who downloads each copy-protected video, in encrypted form, in the video itself. When you play a copy-protected video, the Player will send this encrypted information to Google, including the identity of the video, to confirm that the copy is authorized."

Youtube Privacy Policy
"We use both your personally identifiable information and certain non-personally-identifiable information (such as anonymous user usage data, cookies, IP addresses, browser type, clickstream data, etc.) to improve the quality and design of the YouTube Sites and to create new features, promotions, functionality, and services by storing, tracking, analyzing, and processing user preferences and trends, as well as user activity and communications."

They do store a lot of information, most intriguing part being the fact that they use ip geotagging so that they display ads based on your location, but also based on your preferences gathered from your online behavior. So, be careful what you search for.