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Google's Terms of Service changes boil down to privacy, security

The new Terms will go live on Monday, November 11.
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Written by Rachel King, Contributor on
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Google has announced it will be modifying its Terms of Service soon. There are only a few changes, and while most are subtle, they do affect anyone with a Google account.

In a nutshell, the updates boil down to changes around privacy and security -- notably for mobile devices and social networking.

The full legalese version is already online, as well as a summary. Here's what you need to know.

For starters, users will be able to control whether or not their profile images and names appear in reviews, advertising and other commercial contexts on Google properties. This can be managed through the Shared Endorsements setting.

Google asserted that this could only happen when users take an action (i.e. +1 an item on Google+, etc.), and their images and names are only visible to contacts already designated for sharing.

The Internet giant is also taking a more proactive approach in reminding people to be cautious about their digital identities, especially on mobile devices.

Here's an example:

It’s just good common sense: Don’t use our services if you’re doing something that requires your full attention, like driving, and our services might distract you. And, of course, always follow the law while driving.

On the one hand, it does look like a way for Google to remove itself from any liability in terms of stolen devices and/or passwords. At the same time, users are the ones who need to be held responsible for their own online activity and awareness (or lack thereof), and a spelled-out reminder is a good idea.

The new Terms will go live on Monday, November 11, replacing the existing ToS policy.

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