Google Merging Data of Licensed Professionals
By Alexander Limontes, Esq. In early January, 2012 Google announced that they will be tracking people using Google Search in an effort to make Internet searching more “personal” to the user.
Google explains that linking user data across its email, social-networking and video services will actually improve the user experience and assist advertisers in reaching their target audience.
Google’s privacy policies in the past included dozens of different complex policies spanning many services but in response to legal pressure from Federal Agencies has consolidated many of these policies into a simpler easy to understand policy. “In a statement, Alma Whitten, a Google privacy director, wrote that the changes “will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.” She added, “Our recently launched personal search feature is a good example of the cool things Google can do when we combine information across products.”
However, not all people are convinced that merging data will benefit users. Representative Ed Markey from Massachusetts raises questions about the amount of control that users will have over their own personal information. Here is an article discussing how Google merges the data of attorneys at different locations who are in no way related to each other.
Many folks consider this an invasion of privacy, and other believe it is a form of identity theft, designed to increase Google PPC revenues, and believe that it will make Google Users more susceptible to cyber crime. While others that do not like the new policies believe that the “switching costs” associated with changing email providers and moving contacts and documents to another provider are too high.
The problem that many users are having is their inability to “opt out” which Google’s response is too bad go find another provider. Google adds your business data on its own. You have no choice but to claim it, or risk a hi jack via community edits, or a data merge that lists your competitor’s phone number next to your name.
These changes beg the question, “How will this affect the professional that uses Google Services in a professional capacity but also in a personal capacity?” For many users this will have little to no impact but for some Professionals such as Doctors, Attorneys or Therapists whom are held to a higher standard when it comes to private information the effects could be devastating. For example, if you search for John Smith and attorney in New York and get a number for an attorney, John Smith, in New York…
I can’t think of a more practical application of the issues here facing us professionals that are held to a higher standard with regards to private information.
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