Google users worried about privacy: Survey

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Google is facing more public reproach, Capitol Hill scrutiny and possible enforcements by international bodies like the EU. Photo - AP

According to a recent survey, about 83% of Google users are not happy with the personal data being collected for search results targeting advertisement. The survey results come after the Internet search giant said in January it was modifying its privacy policy and would collect and combine user data across its services, including YouTube, Gmail and Google+.

The Pew Internet & American Life survey revealed that 65% of users disliked the idea of a search engine collecting information about their searches and then using it to rank future search results. They were concerned it would limit information users get online and what search results were returned.

The result also suggested that about 73% of Internet users are unhappy that a search engine would be keeping track of searches and personalising future search results because it would be an invasion of privacy.

“Search engines are increasingly important to people in their navigation of information spaces, but users are generally uncomfortable with the idea of their search histories being used to target information to them. A clear majority of searchers say that they feel that search engines keeping track of search history is an invasion of privacy, and they also worry about their search results being limited to what’s deemed relevant to them,” Kristen Purcell, associate director of Pew Internet and author of the report
said in the statement.

Google has been in the spotlight since it announced changes in its privacy policy and started its implementation from 1 March. The changes in privacy policy allows information gathering about the online user’s behaviour on any of Google’s services such as YouTube, Google+ and Gmail. The California-based company wants to sell the user’s browsing information that would help advertisers design their target product.

However, this search engine’s policy has under fire from privacy rights activists who insist it as another way of bolstering online ad targeting by creating more personal profile of users.

Intervention

Meanwhile, EU officials is investigating whether the policy changes by Google violates European Laws. On the other hand, Electronic Privacy Information Center sued Federal Trade Commission last month under the hopes of compelling regulators to stop Google’s privacy change in effect.

Earlier, EU officials had asked the search engine to delay policy change implementation, but Google still went ahead with the changes.

Meanwhile, Google is also taking the flack from US attorney general as more questions are being posed against policy change.

So far, Google Inc is the most popular search engine with 83% of users said they used it more often, whereas Yahoo Inc trailed at 6 percent, the survey found.

Pew conducted this survey from January 20 to February 19 among 2, 253 of young adults, including 901 phone interviews. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Sources: Reuters, BusinessTimes.com

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