Come March 1st, Google is collapsing its more than 60 different product-specific privacy policies and terms of service into one overhauled, streamlined document that more accurately reflects the search giant's priorities. That's important, as Google continues to turn its disparate cloud applications into a unified platform. The problem is that one of those "priorities" is the controversial, much-maligned social "Search plus Your World" initiative.
But it's this bit, on the topic of "What should I expect to see change as a result of this?" that tells the tale:
Over time you can expect to see better search results, ads and other content when you’re using Google services. A more consistent user experience across Google might mean that we give you more accurate spelling suggestions because you’ve typed them before. Or maybe we can tell you that you’ll be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and the local traffic conditions. Google users still have to do too much heavy lifting, and we want to do a better job of helping them.
Some products will be keeping their own privacy policies, Google says. Google Wallet, for example, is prone to outside industry-specific privacy laws that can't reasonably be covered by one streamlined policy. Meanwhile, Google Chrome's separate privacy agreement is designed to go a lot more in-depth into the browser's specific privacy questions.
Finally, Google says that if you don't like it, well, there's always Google Takeout - you're welcome to take your data with you on the way out.
No doubt, this is going to provide plenty of fodder for Google's critics as the search giant explains in plain English exactly how it's going to keep an eye on your online life. But again, it's really not that big a change - Google-as-Big-Brother isn't a recent development, though the Google+ integration has brought the argument right back to the forefront.