Google not respecting my privacy? Games and data

So Google announced and introduced the games tab in Google Plus.

We can now all play angry birds and be really unproductive all day 🙂


Nothing is for free. Google claimed to repsect the privacy of its users – also to differentiate itself from Facebook.

So I was suprised to read this:

Below are a few examples of how games may use the information that they request:


Ordered list of your people in your circles
Google gives the developer an ordered list of people from your circles. This tells the game developer the people you are most likely to want to engage with in the game. The order is based on your interactions across Google. This information could be used by the game to present you with people to play the game with, including to invite to the game, and to send gifts and messages.

This means that when a friend of mine plays a game and grants the permissions (which he has to or else he cannot play) MY data gets shared with the game publisher – and I am not even asked nor can I opt-out

This is exactly the opposite of respecting my privacy.

Google, this is #fail on a very high level.

I hereby urge Google to:

  • Make the data sharing an opt-in thing
  • Alternatively AT LEAST allow me to opt-out
  • And do make available to me a list of all game publishers that have access to my data without my explicit consent

I am also a bit unhappy that the text says “Below are a few examples […]” – where can I get a complete list of data that gets shared?

Update this page has a link that could shed some light on exactly which data gets shared, but alas, it’s a 404. Please fix this, google. It says:

Within Games
When you play a game, you’re consenting to share information such as your name and profile picture with the game developer. This lets developers design better social games. Learn more about what information developers can access.

But the link goes to which seems to be a broken link.

CC BY 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

12 thoughts on “Google not respecting my privacy? Games and data”

  1. Well, every depends of the implementation. They could be giving a list of ids of each user in order to send some kind of game spam, but not personal details until you sign to play that game. Time to read the APIs to know the details

  2. I am sorry but I believe you are wrong, you missed the “View public profile information for these people” sentence, which means that only public profile information is available. Such information is already available for everyone.
    The player provides explicit authorization for it’s own data, which is the circle relation, adding someone to your circle is not shared information because it does not require mutual participation.

    1. Well – the exact wording is quoted in my blog post, but I will gladly repeat it here: “Google gives the developer an ordered list of people from your circles. This tells the game developer the people you are most likely to want to engage with in the game. The order is based on your interactions across Google.” – Where does it say it is only public profile information? Where does it say what is in this list exactly? And why is the list ordered on interactions? Especially the last point makes the list more than just a list. It is an ordered list and the order reveals more information as it should IMHO.

      1. Where does it say that it does such ordering based on your private data? You are accusing Google of violating your privacy based on a doubt. The doubt is reasonable, accusation is not.

  3. You put your data in the hands of somebody else that you have no compelling reason to trust (in-fact you have good reasons *not to trust them) and wonder why you get spanked?

  4. Get your facts together first. And then put an article about facts. What you assume or believe that is being shared is not enough. What a crap posting!!!

    1. I have quoted straight from the google help pages. Which facts do you need?

  5. Oh no! You’ve dared criticize Google! Get ready for lots of irrational fanboi flaming.

    (Join the club 🙂 I was upset enough to buy a domain name over it)

    1. As Gloria Gaynor would say:

      you think I’d crumble
      you think I’d lay down and die
      Oh no, not I
      I will survive


  6. Jan, Having played a lot of games since the last two days I do believe that the data accessed is what is publicly available. Almost always what the games show me is the people in my circles who are also playing the games and the scores they have. At regular intervals they have pulled out a name and tried to hint that I share a request with them, but even that request is still on the games page. Of course all of this is what I as a user see, so I cannot attest this is what the game creator can see. However the specific data agreements I have Okayed in cased of each game does explicitly use the word “public information” For eg for FloodIt! this is the screen I got for accepting the agreement
    I agree that Google can perhaps add a Nuke all button using which people can say their public info be kepy private from the games, but I am not sure that serves much of a purpose. As long as one knows what ones public information is it should not matter who gets it.

  7. That you are in my circles is my private (or public) information. I might not even be in yours. What level of interaction I have with you is at most our shared private information, cannot be yours exclusively, can possibly be mine exclusively depending on the type of interaction. This is neither evil nor worth an uproar, google are doing other things that are more worthy of attention.

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