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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Keep your Web to yourself

If you’ve been hearing all the talk lately about Google and privacy, but are unsure what it means, you’re probably not alone. Reading all those privacy policies can take forever and understanding them almost requires an engineering degree.

But don’t fret, Google isn’t selling your soul … yet.

In a nutshell, Google has dozens of services that people can use on the Web — email, calendar, shopping, Google+, etc. And as of Feb. 29, 2012, all of those services have separate privacy polices.

On March 1, 2012, however, Google will consolidate its privacy policy so that all of its services share the same policy — which also means it can share your Web history. Google says its reason for doing this is to improve your Web experience by letting Google tailor ads, emails and other functions specifically to your own tastes and preferences.

However, this understandably makes some people nervous. If so, there’s a quick way to keep Google at bay.

Log in to your Google account and enter the following address in your Web browser:

Once you’re there, tick the small box on the left and click the box that says “Remove all Web History.”

Viola. You’re set. You are now dead to Google.

This action deletes your Web surfing history from Google’s database, which will keep them from knowing what sites you’ve visited. More importantly, though, it “pauses” your Web history, which means Google will no longer be able to track your Web activity.

If you change your mind later, just log back on to the Web site and resume Web history. But be quick. Google’s new privacy policy kicks in Thursday, March 1, 2012.