The company is looking to link together various buckets of data users leave behind - information on which YouTube videos they're watching, what they're searching for on google.com, etc. - to better track those who use its sprawling collection of services.
A bipartisan group of legislators have already raised similar concerns. But Google insists there are ways around the new initiative. For instance, it primarily targets those who sign in to Google accounts - say, the gmail program - and users can do plenty on Google - say, use the search engine - without signing in. There are other privacy controls that will remain in effect, even for those who have signed in: switching to "off the record," for instance, with Google Chat.
But there's a bigger issue, here. Big Data has arrived, as a great piece in the New York Times Magazine outlined this weekend. Companies, baseball teams, and political campaigns are sorting through an increasingly rich trove of information on our shopping habits, player tendencies, and voting behaviors to market and cajole. And there is no going back.