How to stop Google tracking you across services

Google has announced an update to its terms and conditions that means from 1st March, it will now track and collate user activity across all Google products including YouTube, Gmail and Google+. According to the company, the aim of this is to unify the privacy policies for different products as well as provide a more personalized service. Google said in its announcement:

We may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.

Specific benefits of this mean Google can deliver personalized results when you do a Google search, more relevant ads to your interests and even set reminders based on your activity.

However, if you’d rather Google didn’t collate or track all your activities across the various Google products that you use, there are a few simple measures you can take to stop it.

  • Sign-out of your Google account. This only works when using certain Google products. For some, such as YouTube, you can use the service without being signed-in. Obviously, this method isn’t much good if you want to check your Gmail. If you want to see whether you are signed-in or not, check the top-right of your screen.
  • Create multiple Google accounts. You could create one for each product that you use so that your activities or data are limited to one account at a time. You can then sign-in with multiple accounts in one browser although for some services, you can only sign-in to one Google account per browser at any one time which could become a bit messy and annoying.
  • Customize your Google privacy settings. Google does offer a privacy customization page where you can tweak your settings for various apps. However, it isn’t clear whether these will still work once the new privacy policy takes effect on March 1st.

It’s worth adding that if you’re not happy with the new privacy changes, you can close your Google account and take your data with you in accordance with Google’s data liberation policy. To check the data that Google currently holds on you across different services, check the Google Dashboard.

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