(Latest) Right of Refusal

Uncategorized Posted Mar 7, 2012 by Bryan Grillo

As we all know, Google’s privacy policy changes took effect last Thursday. And not surprisingly, it’s fueled a healthy dose of discussion and criticism.

But it was something that occurred over the weekend, and not the search giant’s new privacy rules or its circumvention of Safari’s default privacy settings, which inspired this blog entry.

Without going into too much personal detail – since, well, this is a post about privacy – I was at a healthcare facility for a routine diagnostic test on Saturday.

During registration I was required to verify personal information. It represented the standard questions we all get asked. No big deal right?

Then the intake person prefaced the next series of questions with (and I’m paraphrasing here as I don’t recall exactly what and how it was said) language that represented something to the effect of the facility wanting to ensure proper care for all of its patients.

Ok, I thought, what could she possibly ask me now? What followed were questions pertaining to ethnicity, birthplace and religious affiliation.

I started to comply by providing the requisite answers, but quickly became uneasy with the nature and direction of the facility’s queries.

So I politely, but firmly, apologized and stated that I wasn’t trying to be difficult, but that I just wasn’t uncomfortable with disclosing this type of information.

To the intake person’s credit, she was polite and professional, and acquiesced by striking those personal details from my record.

I wondered why the facility required this information given that a date of birth, social security number, address and phone (among other pieces of information) were plenty sufficient in identifying me, or anyone else for that matter.

So perhaps it serves as a(nother) reminder that when we’re asked to provide more information, we should stop and question: Do they really need this data?

Back to Google. No matter how you feel about their new privacy policy, one thing’s for certain. It’s sparked many helpful articles, slideshows, blogs, etc. detailing what users can do to protect their information. And that’s a good thing.

Did or will you take this as an opportunity – as I did – to leverage those resources and revisit how to (better) manage your privacy across Google’s properties and on the web generally?

Some of the most helpful ones that I found were authored by Julie Sartain on Network World (“How to protect your privacy on Google,” “6 things you need to know about Google’s new privacy policy,” and “How to protect your online privacy”) and Clint Boulton on eWEEK (“Google Privacy Policy Changes Are Live: Here Are Your Options”).