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With Google's Privacy Changes Looming, Consumers are Feeling the Heat

Today’s Washington Post weighs in on Google’s impending privacy policy changes and the negative implications for users:

“Users won’t be able to opt out [of Google’s new privacy policy]. If they don’t like the change, Google has said, they can avoid signing into their accounts or stop using Google products altogether.”

The biggest problem, according to the Post: “Once you’re hooked on one service, it’s hard to switch.” This lock-in has always been part of the plan. As Google economist, Hal Varian, once said, “Once you have a chosen technology, or a format for keeping information, switching can be expensive.”

And now that Google has millions of people using its products, with little competitive pressure, the true price of “free” is becoming clear: user privacy is sacrificed in the name of Google’s profit. That is, without competition, Google is demonstrating that it doesn’t need to respond to the concerns of the government or consumers.

Bert Foer, president of the American Antitrust Institute, summed up his feelings for the Post:

“It’s sort of the story of how you boil a frog in lukewarm water. Google may be capturing its consumers in the same way so that consumers don’t understand what is happening until they are cooked.”

Unfortunately for users, things are heating up quickly with the changes set to take effect on Thursday, March 1.