If Google chooses to take full advantage of all the possibilities in this policy change it could have a huge impact on our daily use of the internet. Just try to think about how many services you use every day are owned and run by Google. One of the biggest things could be their steady growing market share on the smartphone OS field, just imagine how many people Google can track via the GPS in their Android phones, so if Google knows that you visit golf courses a lot based on your phone GPS they can spam you with golf ads on all pages you visit that are showing Google AdSense ads (and that’s most pages nowadays). They know which apps you download on your phone, which games you play and so could tailor your search results in Google search to show results based on that also. Because Google has AdSense ads on most pages they can track your every move online, and now that they’ve opened up the door for themselves to use that information, well no one can really know the consequences, but they could be very big.
Google says that these changes are being made to give a better experience for their users with more tailored search results, but one can’t help thinking that they also had in the back their heads that with this change they can serve targeted AdSense ads wherever you go and on their search results pages. Google already has a browsing profile of you, you might not know that, but they have had that for a while now, this might be a good time to get to know Google’s Ad Preferences.
If you take a look at Google’s Philosophy then you will see at #6 that they make it clear that “You can make money without doing evil”, and the three bullet points there all state that they want their ads to be relevant and not too flashy. With this policy change they sure can make them relevant, but the question is will they become too relevant?
In their privacy principles, #4 reads:
People have different privacy concerns and needs. To best serve the full range of our users, Google strives to offer them meaningful and fine-grained choices over the use of their personal information. We believe personal information should not be held hostage and we are committed to building products that let users export their personal information to other services. We don‘t sell users’ personal information.
Previously, we only offered Personalized Search for signed-in users, and only when they had Web History enabled on their Google Accounts. What we’re doing today is expanding Personalized Search so that we can provide it to signed-out users as well. This addition enables us to customize search results for you based upon 180 days of search activity linked to an anonymous cookie in your browser. It’s completely separate from your Google Account and Web History (which are only available to signed-in users). You’ll know when we customize results because a “View customizations” link will appear on the top right of the search results page. Clicking the link will let you see how we’ve customized your results and also let you turn off this type of customization.
These changes are a direct reversal of those previous policies.