Nine in ten people haven’t read Google’s new privacy policy

Research published today by Big Brother Watch highlights how only 12% of Google service users have read Google’s new privacy policy.

The study, undertaken with YouGov, found while 92% of people online use a Google service on a regular basis, 65% of people were not aware the change comes into effect this week and 47% of people did not know any change was being proposed.

This follows the Article 29 Working Party, a watchdog group of data protection authorities from EU member countries, calling for a pause in the implementation of the new policy to ‘check the possible consequences for the protection of the personal data of citizens.’

We support this position, and believe consumers are not adequately aware of the impact of these changes. This is all to clear as despite being just days away, only 12% of Google service users have read Google’s new privacy policy and less than half (40%) of Google service users think the company should bring it into force as planned on March 1st 2012.

Much more needs to be done to inform consumers what these changes mean, and how they can take control of their personal information before the changes come into effect. The impact of Google’s new policy cannot be understated, but the public are in the dark about what the changes actually mean.

Companies should not be allowed to bury in legal jargon and vague statements how they may monitor what we do online, where we use our phones and even listen to what we say in calls. This change isn’t about Google collecting more data, it’s about letting the company combine what’s in your emails with the videos you watch and the things you search for, and ultimately increase their profits.

If people don’t understand what is happening to their personal information, how can they make an informed choice about using a service? Google is putting advertiser’s interests before user privacy and should not be rushing ahead before the public understand what the changes will mean.

We have written to the UK’s data regulator, the Information Commissioner, asking for an investigation into what the implications will be for UK consumers and whether the change would break UK data protection law.