Google’s new Terms of Service

GoogleApps_Oct21_CThe Terms of Service is a common legal document found on many websites where you sign up for an account. This important document outlines the legal aspects associated with the account. While these documents don’t normally change much, they will be updated from time-to-time, and that’s exactly what Google recently announced they will be doing.

This article is an overview of the recently announced changes to Google’s Terms of Service, which will become official, and legally binding, on November 13, 2013. You can view the new document on Google’s Policies and Principles site, and it would be a good idea to read the whole document if you haven’t done so before.

The majority of the contract hasn’t actually changed, but there are three changes that you should be aware of.

How your photo and profile information are shown

Because Google is becoming increasingly connected and social, when you take an action such as sharing an ad, or reviewing a business on Google+ your profile photo and account information will be displayed.

The first part of this update now states that only people who you choose to share the information with will actually see it. So, if you +1 something and only choose to share it with 10 friends, they will see your photo and profile information while others outside that circle won’t. So, when sharing content on Google’s services be sure to pay attention who you are sharing with. If you share a post with the public, your post, photo and profile information will be visible to everyone.

The second part of this update focuses on shared endorsements. According to Google when you recommend a business or rank an app, or make any sort of recommendation, there is a chance that your profile photo and recommendation will show up on ads shown to your friends. By default, this function is enabled and your profile name and photo will be shared in endorsements.

With the new update, you will be able to choose whether your information is shared in endorsements or not. If you don’t want your information to show up in ads, go to the Google’s Shared Endorsements page and un-tick the button beside Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads. If the box is checked, your information will show up. If not, then it won’t. Be sure to press Save.

Using Google’s services on your mobile device

Because the increased use of mobile devices while driving has led to more accidents, countries are adopting distracted driving laws. These laws make it illegal to use a mobile device while driving, and Google’s new Terms of Service has an update that addresses this.

The update reads, “Some of our Services are available on mobile devices. Do not use such Services in a way that distracts you and prevents you from obeying traffic or safety laws.” What this means for most users is that if they are using a Google service on their mobile device while driving and they get into an accident, Google likely can’t be held responsible.

Your password

Your Google account gives you access to nearly all of Google’s services, some of which may contain sensitive or private information. The new Terms highlight the fact that Google would like you to keep your account’s password safe. It suggests that you don’t use your Google password for other accounts e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc. It also reminds you that you are responsible for any activity that happens on, or through, your Google account.

If you would like to learn more about Google’s Terms of Service please visit their site, or contact us to see how we can help.

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