Google has indicated it will merge user data from its various products, and this is what has riled up critics, who apparently believe that combining information on users, even within a company, is harmful. Yet, combining the data Google already has will increase the value of those data, both for the company and its users. As its understanding of users increases, Google will be able to provide more personalized services, such as more relevant search results. And, of course, if it can serve users more useful ads then it can charge advertisers more for those ads.
It is important to note that the new policy has not actually been implemented. No actual users of Google products have experienced how the policy will affect their user experience or had a chance to react to it. If users feel the change negatively impacts their experience, they will presumably let Google know.
Not being a lawyer, I’m not going to opine on whether this policy is or is not consistent with the FTC Consent Order. But the episode is troubling if one thinks about its potential effect on innovation on the Internet, which largely depends on the use of information—either to develop and improve products or to fund them. It seems now that the cost of making even a modest innovation has ratcheted up.