02/27/2012 09:09 pm ET Updated Apr 28, 2012

Google to Consolidate Data March 1: 5 Steps to Protect Your Privacy

Some people are worried that on March 1, Google will begin consolidating information across its many products. That means that any information you enter in one product, say YouTube, can be combined with information from other Google services including search, Gmail or Google's new Google+ social networking site. In its new privacy policy, Google says that, for logged in users, it can now collect and store quite a bit of information about you including your search queries, logs of your calls and your location (for mobile users). Even if you're not signed in, Google may obtain your IP address and may place tracking cookies on your machine that record "anonymous identifiers when you interact with services we offer to our partners, such as advertising services or Google features that may appear on other sites."

Good or bad?

Whether all this is good or bad depends on you and your trust in Google. Personally, I don't mind targeted ads (I prefer them to irrelevant ones) and I'm not particularly worried about Google's using its combined database to invade my privacy. I've been using Gmail and Google Voice for years and if the company wanted to be "evil," they already know a great deal about me, including the content of all my email and a record of all my incoming and outgoing calls. Still, there are plenty of people who do want to limit what Google knows about them, and if you're one of those people you should have the right and the tools to do so.

Limit What Google Collects

On, I detail five steps on how to protect your privacy:

  1. Don't sign into Google
  2. Use your browser's "private" or "incognito" mode
  3. Clear your Google history
  4. Review your Google dashboard
  5. Clear your browser's history

You'll find instructions here.

Disclosure: Larry Magid is co-director of, a non-profit Internet safety organization that receives financial support from Google and other Internet companies.