I love Google. It's my go-to resource for all sorts of things from recipes to how to get my ancient iPod to play nice with my new computer. It's like a giant, all-knowing swami who has an answer for everything.
Call me cynical but what it really means is they want more data so they can sell more advertising and or/charge more for it. It's not that it's a new practice; now they're going to combine the data they mine across all their products and add it to what they learned about you when you set up the accounts to create a single profile. Those who know much more about this than I have said that such data synthesizing will allow Google to look at everything a user does online and tie it back to specific individuals.
Me...I'm not so keen on that idea. I don't get paranoid about privacy on the Internet but I do try to be smart about it. And there's something about this that just sticks in my craw. And apparently it sticks in the craw of a few other people too. There are lawsuits by privacy group watchdogs, threatening letters by the Attorneys General of 36 states, and even outrage from foreign governments that the new policy violates their laws. Turns out it's quite the to-do.
I suppose one remedy would be to stop using Google products all together but then I'd wouldn't have a quick and easy way to reassure myself that I made the correct choice between all together and altogether when the need arises...like just now. PCWorld and a number of others in the know are recommending that people a different response.
If you act before March 1, you can delete your Google browsing history so they can't use what they've already collected and put the future gathering process on pause. They'll still collect the information, according to what I've read, but it will be anonymous rather than tied to your user account. And if you encounter problems down the road that make using Google products unsatisfactory, you can always go back in and turn the Web Browsing History back on. After March 1, you can't opt out.
This article gives one of the best step-by-step explanations I've seen on how to do that. I followed the instructions yesterday and have Googled to my heart's content today without noticing any difference. Just let me remind you that I'm not a computer expert nor did I sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night so do your own research and act accordingly.
I like to think of it as staying one step ahead of Google...or maybe it should be leap, given the date.