Google is trying to make its new terms of service more readable

It’s not changing anything, though
Privacy news
1 min
Google's terms of service with yes and no buttons.

NOTE: This post was originally published on March 6, 2020

If you’ve googled something at some point in the last couple of weeks, you’ve likely seen this nondescript blue bar on top of your screen reading:

Screenshot of Google's new terms of service banner.

You’ve probably seen similar pop-ups before and, instinctively, clicked accept without reading the gargantuan terms of service documentation.

And you would not be the only one. Given the take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum that these terms often demand, it’s easier to accept them without reading the legalese first.

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Knowing this, Google has provided a summary of changes, which they have distilled further to three main changes: Better readability, better communication of changes and updates, and the inclusion of service-specific terms and policies—92 to be exact.

By making it easier to read it may prompt more people to actually read the terms of service, which is an important first step to understanding just how much information you’re sharing with Google.

Not yet mentioned—UK users may lose EU GDPR protections

Not explicitly mentioned in the terms is Google’s plan to “move its British users’ accounts out of the control of European Union privacy regulators, placing them under U.S. jurisdiction instead,” as reported by Reuters.

With the UK now out of the European Union, Google has become one of the first big tech companies to move the data of British users to the U.S. We may see more companies follow suit while the UK decides whether it wants to implement its own version of the GDPR.

Google’s final say stays the same: take it or leave it

Google’s terms of service are no different to any other terms of service, but the heavy reliance on Google’s products and services (which they’ve conveniently listed in their service-specific terms) makes the sheer quantity of data they’re collecting about you visually alarming.

If you’re not happy with how much they do collect, here is what Google has to say:

Screenshot of Google's Terms of Service.

You can delete everything Google knows about you. And there are plenty of alternatives for email, maps, browsers, and search engines that won’t try to monetize your data.

Ceinwen focused on digital privacy, censorship, and surveillance, and has interviewed leading figures in tech.