updated 06:15 pm EST, Tue January 24, 2012
Consolidates 70 different policy documents to one
Google has advised customers that it is revising its privacy policies and terms of service. The company claims it is doing so to unify and simplify its terms across most of its product offerings. Starting March 1, Google will be creating a single terms and policy document to replace the 60 it now has to cover its online services and products.
Google actually has over 70 privacy policies and terms of service in place. It will be consolidating most into a single main document. It still has to keep unique policies in place for several products due to legal and other considerations.
To do this, Google will be combining the diverse information that an individual may have provided across several of the company's products. By consolidating information and treating an individual as a single user, the company claims it will be providing a "simpler, more intuitive Google experience." Google also explains that the new system will be able to help it provide an individual reminders that they're going to be late for a meeting based on their location, their calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day.
Google claims that, in doing so, it will be able to personalize and improve search results. The company notes that with the unified information, it will be providing "more relevant ads" as well.
The unification is still likely to raise some concern. A unified policy can have the potential for overreach and may not address specific cases where a tougher or looser policy might be appropriate. Most don't pay attention to privacy policies until there's an issue, however, and simplification may be considered a better alternative than no change at all.