The updated policy states: “For example, we may collect information that’s publicly available online or from other public sources to help train Google’s AI models and build products and features like Google Translate, Bard, and Cloud AI capabilities. Or, if your business’s information appears on a website, we may index and display it on Google services.”
This policy change is a departure from the norm, as privacy policies typically describe how a company uses information posted on its own services. In this case, Google seems to claim the right to use data from any part of the public network for AI development, treating the entire Internet as a resource for its AI projects.
The implications of this policy update raise new privacy concerns. While it is common knowledge that public postings are available to anyone, the potential use of this information now goes beyond mere visibility. Publicly posted content can be ingested by artificial intelligence tools such as Bard and ChatGPT and can potentially be used in unpredictable ways.
This practice also raises legal questions about the source of data used by AI tools. Companies like Google and OpenAI are known to copy large parts of the internet to populate their AI models, and the legality of this practice remains unclear. While these issues are being debated by legislators, consumers are already feeling the consequences of these decisions in an unexpected way.
For example, Twitter and Reddit have responded to these concerns by restricting free access to their APIs, which previously allowed anyone to upload large numbers of posts. While the move is designed to protect their intellectual property, it also disrupted third-party tools that many users relied on to access these platforms.