With PSU’s recent migration to Gmail, you may be wondering whether you should opt-out now, but not to worry—PSU’s emailing system will remain unaffected by the changes. If you have a personal Gmail account, however, it might be worth reading through the new (shortened and less painful) policy.
As of March 1, Google condensed its 70-plus privacy policies for each of its services into one umbrella policy for a more streamlined and intuitive user experience. But what exactly does this entail?
The changes are not likely to result in too drastic an overhaul. However, a few of them will allow Google to share information that it collects internally. The information will be used for targeted advertising and to create better products in the future. This includes Google Chrome apps and more services from Google.
This isn’t exactly a new concept; from personalized advertisements to Google’s terrifying memory regarding any and all information sent, received or searched, we have all become familiar with how what we do on the internet is forever recorded.
The difference this time is that Google’s services will be in closer communication, always focusing on you and anticipating your needs. The example that Google gives is that if you’re logged into Gmail on a mobile device, Google Maps will be able use your location and alert you of any traffic jams that could make you late for an appointment stored in Google Calendar. This is potentially very helpful stuff.
However, there are drawbacks. This cached information can be used to target advertise in the wrong fashion. Any student knows that sometimes, you have to search bizarre things for a paper, ranging from “squid reproduction” to “‘Imagine’ chord progression.” These are not isolated from one’s normal searches. How are students to know if the research for one anti-smoking paper is going to make Google offer them ads on quitting, fancy cars or impulse behavior?
Things like this make me both self-conscious and frustrated when I use Google, because a person’s identity is determined and reduced instantaneously by an algorithm that is just as likely to cater to advertisers as it is to users. But how can you not opt-in in today’s world?
There’s no reason not to with your student email account. Kirk Kelly, associate chief information officer for the Office of Information and Technology, confirmed this stipulation. “We have a separate contract with Google, and it is not impacted or changed by the recent Google privacy changes,” Kelly said.
There you have it. When you’re surfing the web, it might actually behoove you to do so under your PSU Gmail account. Granted, many people haven’t been pleased with the migration to Gmail at times (myself included). I’ve heard plenty of students griping about the decision, but that could be because no one likes change—especially on such a huge scale. There are bound to be some glitches, but Gmail’s benefits outweigh the inconvenience of having to learn a new system.
And that’s what OIT’s Google Training is for anyhow. They offer self-help tutorials on their website and free classes for students, staff and faculty that can get you started consolidating your own online experience.
Cloud storage means accessing a paper in class when the dog really does eat your homework. Document sharing means group work gets a lot easier than five people finding a time to meet up. Having everything in one place means a student’s life gets a little less scattered—help that I’ll gladly accept.
But as a senior, I’m going to have to start looking ahead to an email address unprotected by PSU’s private contract with Google. When that time comes, I might log out altogether.