Google+, Day 15: A Closer Look at Google+ Privacy

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Another area where I have an issue with privacy in Google+ is with the games. As I pointed out on Day 14, when I try to play games I first have to grant the game and its developers permission to access different aspects of my Google+ account. I don't understand why a game developer needs to know anything about anyone in my Circles or how often I communicate with them in order for me to play some mindless game online for a few minutes (or hours).

I chose not to grant those permissions, and just not play the game. But, my information and my privacy are still at risk if someone else who has me in their Circles decides to grant those permissions. As ridiculous as I think it is for a game developer to need to know anything about me in order for me to play a game, it is borderline criminal for a game developer to dig into my social network activity without my consent just so my friend can play a game.

Google+ privacy has its issues as well. It all comes down to how much you trust Google.
Then there are the sweeping permissions granted to Google just by accepting the terms of service for participating on Google+. The ToS states:

"By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services."

I'm not a lawyer. I give Google some benefit of the doubt and assume that its intent for co-opting and redistributing my content is not as nefarious as the ToS makes it sound. But, from what I can tell, the permissions I am granting by agreeing to these statements is broad enough that Google could, in fact, do some insidious things with my content. Basically, I am taking Google at its word and putting faith in the "do no evil" mantra.

I understand that people are enamored with the simplicity of choosing which Circles to share posts with. I agree that it has merits, but it is not without its own issues, and I don't agree that Google has shown itself to have any greater respect for my privacy than Facebook. It seems like a case of "six of one, half a dozen of the other" to me, and you just have to pick your poison.

Read the last "30 Days" series: 30 Days With the iPad

Day 14: Playing Games on Google+

Day 16: Using Google+ From My iPhone

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