Google to whittle down privacy policy

Within a few weeks, Google will launch a rewritten privacy policy that aims to be more transparent, deleting 12 product-specific policies in the process
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Google plans to update its privacy policy within the next few weeks in an effort to cut down on legal jargon.

The changes, scheduled to come into effect on 3 October, are aimed at making the policy easier to understand for users, according to the search company's associate general counsel Mike Yang.

"We're simplifying and updating Google's privacy policies," Yang wrote in a post on Google's official blog on Friday. "To be clear, we aren't changing any of our privacy practices; we want to make our policies more transparent and understandable."

Google has been criticised over its privacy practices, including the collection of Wi-Fi data by its Street View cars. More recently, the company said in a court filing on Friday that it would pay $8.5m (£5.5m) in a settlement for a class-action lawsuit over its social-networking Buzz service. Google included users' frequent Gmail contacts on public Buzz profiles when it was launched in February.

As part of the October update, 12 product-specific policies will be deleted to eliminate repetition. In an FAQ on the update, Google identified the products in question as 3D Warehouse, App Engine, Calendar, Docs, Firefox Extensions, G1, Gmail, Feedback, iGoogle, Maps, Talk, and Tasks. These will be governed by the company's main privacy policy instead.

In addition, Google will rewrite the main privacy policy to cut out redundant parts and reduce the "more legalistic bits", said Yang.

To help users, the company has put more privacy information into its products' Help Center facilities and added a privacy tools page to its Google Privacy Center. The privacy tools include Google dashboard, which allows people to view the information Google has stored about them, and an Ads Preferences Manager, which allows a user to edit the data Google uses to target advertising at them.

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