Google's plans to consolidate users' private information across all its platforms has caused consternation. Some people have put their entire lives online and now are suddenly awakening to the implications of that "sharing" for their privacy; yet they're also recognizing belatedly that once you've done that, it's hard to take it back. And it's also a lot of fuss and bother to try to switch away from Google.
Privacy is a valid concern but the time for it is before you spill the beans. Those who were attracted by Google's "free" services seem to have forgotten that basic, sensible point. Free e-mail, free apps, free phone operating systems, etc. -- what did they expect was going to happen? Already, for several years now, "google" had become a verb - if you wanted to check someone out, you'd google them. What does that imply? Somehow, many users overlooked the fact that they could just as easily be the googlee.
Google is a business, they've got a right - in fact a duty - to operate the business to make a profit, and the profit in all these "free" services has to come from advertising and marketing, right? Duh. So the most realistic attitude, I think, is that expressed by one interviewee in Nakashima's article above:
“Google provides us with enough free stuff that if they want to analyze my information for the purpose of creating even better, free products, then so be it,” she said.
An interesting twist is in today's news that the EU has asked Google to delay implementation because the new policy on personal data may break various laws across the Atlantic. Most European countries have a far greater focus on privacy protection than we do in the U.S. There, it's understood as a basic right. Here, on the personal level, too many people react to privacy concerns by wondering what you've got to hide; and on the government level, because the business of America is business, we're always fighting rear-guard actions to close doors to protect privacy after the data-horse is out of the barn. So it will be interesting to see what develops in Europe.