If you regularly use any Google services, you’re already aware that your relationship with the Internet giant is rapidly changing. Google recently announced that they were simplifying their privacy policy to collectively cover all of their websites. The goal is to improve user experiences on websites such as Gmail, Google Plus, Youtube and Picasa.

But that’s not all that’s changing; with the implementation of the privacy policy, the company will have an easier time collecting user-specific data and creating a detailed profile for every one of their members.

So what does that mean for you? You may notice that ads displayed across their sites are targeted to your specific interests and tastes. But don’t panic just yet. This isn’t a new approach by any means; Google has been doing this for years. Rest assured that sensitive personal information (religion, sexual orientation, health problems) are not included in targeted advertisements. In the past, the company anonymously identified users by a string of data, but now Google will be able to identify you personally – your name, address, friends, etc. – and see your data from all the services you use. Included in this is your search and browsing history.

While Google is legally bound to its promises to not use your information maliciously, some users may not want their information kept for various reasons. Remember, the information they track is tied to the Google account you log in to (like Gmail, for example) and not the computer you use to access the sites. Here are some steps you can take to safeguard your information.

– Stay invisible. The easiest way to avoid having your browsing information connected to your name and personal information is to simply avoid logging in to services. This can be easier said than done,  especially if you want to use the features that Google services have to offer.

– Keep an eye on your log-ins. This one is a bit more complicated, but effective. You can use several different browsers and accounts to access different websites and keep your information separate.

– Opt-out and freeze your history. Visit these websites to learn more about how to manage what information is stored, and from where. Remember, you must do this for all of your Google accounts.
http://google.com/dashboard – Shows all the services and devices connected to your account
http://google.com/history – Freeze and delete history
http://google.com/ads/preferences – If you wish not to receive targeted ads, you can opt out here.
Please note that you must do this for every browser and mobile device you use.

– Use your browser’s privacy mode.  All popular browsers offer a privacy mode. When used, things like cookies and history aren’t saved. You can do a quick search to find the privacy mode offered by you preferred browser and how to activate it. In addition to this, you can also manage and delete data already stored by your browser.