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Privacy a concern as Google links Plus with its other sites

Juan Carlos Perez | Oct. 28, 2011
Google's work to integrate its Google+ social networking site broadly with its other services could raise red flags for users who want to closely guard their privacy.

Google officials, from the CEO on down, are gung-ho about Google+ and it's clear that the push to fuse Google+ with other company services will be extensive.

Google has redesigned the interface of the Google Account control panel, whose previous version clearly listed Google services available to users as part of the account, along with links to the services and some of their settings pages. The new control panel lacks that list of services.

Previously found at google.com/accounts, the control panel is now part of the Google+ site domain, another sign that Google+ is becoming the command center for privacy controls and settings across Google services. The new control panel includes a link to the old control panel, but it's not clear for how long the latter will be available.

The road to propagate Google+ across the Google product line is just starting, and the potential for a misstep at some point seems high, considering that at issue is the online identity of potentially hundreds of millions of people.

In some cases, shielding their real identity is of life-and-death importance for some people, such as spousal abuse victims and political dissidents in totalitarian regimes.

"If Google wants to be the broker in the relationship between pseudonyms and real names, there will be all sorts of ways that that could go wrong across their many services. If you're a user in Syria depending on your pseudonymity in order to stay alive, that's not a very comforting situation," said Peter Eckersley, technology projects director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, via e-mail.

In other words, now more than ever, Google must make sure that it fully complies its famous "do not be evil" philosophy.

 

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