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(Pocket-lint) - New research shows that only one in 10 Google users have read Google’s new privacy policy - which comes into effect this Thursday, 1 March.

According to the survey by YouGov and Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties campaign group, 92 per cent of British adults online use one of Google's many services on a regular basis but only 12 per cent of users have read Google’s new privacy policy.

In even more shocking news, 47 per cent of British adults did not know a new privacy policy was even coming into effect on 1 March 2012 even though most people online use Google's web search at least once a week.

Google plans to abandon approximately 60 privacy policies and replace them with a single, more-detailed policy for all its services, allowing it to pull all the information from all of its services into one single profile.


"Companies should not be allowed to bury in legal jargon and vague statements how they may monitor what we do online, where we use our phones and even listen to what we say in calls," says Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch. :This change isn’t about Google collecting more data, it’s about letting the company combine what’s in your emails with the videos you watch and the things you search for."

He adds: "If people don’t understand what is happening to their personal information, how can they make an informed choice about using a service? Google is putting advertisers' interests before user privacy and should not be rushing ahead before the public understand what the changes will mean." 

There is doubt over whether the new privacy policy violates EU law, with European authorities claiming that it does.

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In an email to Google CEO Larry Page on Tuesday, CNIL, the French agency in charge of the investigation, said Google’s explanation of how it will use the data was too vague and difficult to understand "even for trained privacy professionals".

"Our preliminary analysis shows that Google’s new policy does not meet the requirements of the European Directive on Data Protection,’ CNIL told Larry Page.

How to remove your Google search history before Google's new privacy policy goes ahead

Those worried about what data will be shared from Google web searches to other parts of Google services such as Google+ or YouTube are recommended (not by Google) to wipe their web search history before the 1 March.

"If you want to keep Google from combining your Web History with the data they have gathered about you in their other products, such as YouTube or Google Plus, you may want to remove all items from your Web History and stop your Web History from being recorded in the future," warns the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It has put together a very quick guide on how to do that.

1. Sign into your Google account

2. Go to https://www.google.com/history

3. Click "remove all Web History."

4. Click "ok".

Disabling Web History in your Google account will not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information and using it for internal purposes. It also does not change the fact that any information gathered and stored by Google could be sought by law enforcement, but it should mean that you start with a clean slate after the 1 March.

Writing by Stuart Miles.
Sections Google Apps