clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How Google+ killed Google's company-wide privacy effort

New, 125 comments
cluster of locks security privacy stock 1024
cluster of locks security privacy stock 1024

Before Google rolled out its controversial new privacy policy last March — the one that sparked government concerns around the world and could trigger fines in Europe — Google actually considered providing users with a simple privacy slider to let them choose the maximum amount of information to share across every one of its services, according to The Wall Street Journal. Google CEO Larry Page himself reportedly asked for the privacy slider. So why wasn't it adopted? Apparently, Google was worried that people wouldn't share information on its new Google+ social network if they had an easy way to opt out of data collection.

"The tin-foil-hat option"

"Allowing people to select the maximum-protection setting, known as the "tin-foil-hat option," went against Google's newer efforts to get more people to share information about themselves on the Google+ social-networking service," writes the Journal. It wasn't the only reason: reportedly, Google also "found it impossible to reduce privacy controls to so few categories."

According to the publication, Google is being more careful internally about data collection, regardless of what its privacy policy might technically allow. The Journal's sources say that Google Now, the Android service that tries to predict what you want before you ask for it using data from your email, calendar, and more, underwent an extensive legal review to ensure that it wouldn't retain information if a user deleted it from any of the individual components.

While privacy concerns were certainly newsworthy in 2012, fears about data collection have become even more salient this year in light of the US government's PRISM surveillance program.