"Google will not disclose its cookies to third parties except as required by a valid legal process such as a search warrant, subpoena, statute, or court order."
"Please be aware, however, that we will release specific personal information about you if required to do so in order to comply with any valid legal process such as a search warrant, subpoena, statute, or court order."
"We do not rent or sell your personally identifying information to other companies or individuals, unless we have your consent. We may share such information in any of the following limited circumstances:
* We have your consent.
* We conclude that we are required by law or have a good faith belief that access, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to protect the rights, property or safety of Google, its users or the public."
Yes, Google is upfront about it. That's because the new California law, the Online Privacy Protection Act of 2003, which went into effect on July 1, 2004, requires that Google be upfront about it. Are we supposed to congratulate Google for complying with the law?
There are two significant steps backwards in Google's new policy. One is the sharing of information between all of Google's services, This wasn't an issue in the old policy because at that time Google only had one service.
But in addition to the fact that Google now officially admits that all data they collect will be shared between all their services, note the new wording in that last item above that starts out, "We conclude..." Note the wording carefully, especially the word "or." This means Google can give your personally identifiable information to anyone they want, whenever they want. All that's required is "good faith" on Google's part. How hard would it be to prove that Google lacks "good faith" in a court of law? How easy would it be for Google to spin things so that the judge decides in Google's favor?
The only assurance we have is that Google won't openly peddle our personally-identifiable information to other advertisers. But why would Google want to do this anyway? They'd naturally want to hold this information close to their chest, so that other advertisers have to go through Google to benefit from it.