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Google’s privacy policy and your smartphone

Google’s new privacy policy is all about data collection. Google collects your search history. No biggy right? Right. Their new policy however deems it fit that this information be shared across their other services to generate more bespoke, targeted adverts. Still no biggy? Fair enough, but that isn’t what you signed up for. You didn’t sign up to Picasa so your search history would be logged and used to feed you YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps adverts. Still unphased – that’s great – you don’t have anything to worry about.

For anyone who is at the very least concerned by Google’s extensive profiling, we’re here to help you understand how to protect your mobile browsing should you choose to clutch at the strands of anonymity you’re still wielding.

From within your mobile, you can browse privately in a number ways. If you’ve got an Android handset, download InBrowser from the Market and do your Google searching through that. If you’ve got a phone with the latest version of Android (4.0), ironically, it’s Google’s own browser – Chrome Beta that also offers private browsing. If compatible with your phone, we’d recommend the latter option as it offers the most intuitive interface.

To browse privately in Chrome, download the browser in the Android Market, open it, press menu, access your “Settings” and then choose “New Incognito Tab”, as illustrated below.

If you have an iPhone, there’s no need to download any browser, simply tap “Settings”, then “Safari”, to the right of the “Privacy” tab is a slider and bob’s your uncle, with a slide to the right you’re done.

Is there anything else you can do? Of course there is, you can refrain from using Google’s services altogether, though admittedly this is increasingly difficult in todays society. A more feasible option would be to log-out of Google services when done with them, or use a different browser for searches – one that isn’t linked to your Google account.

With the EU inquiry into the change finding Google’s new privacy policy to be in breach of the European law, this is just the beginning of what could be a long, drawn out legal battle – despite the fact the new policy came into effect today. At the very least we hope that Google decide to turn their new policy into an opt-in rather than an opt-out change so users are explicitly made aware of all the services that have access to their search identity.

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