Google's controversial new privacy policy takes effect Thursday despite a wave of criticism from privacy commissioners and continuing heat from the European Union.

The search giant is now saving user information collected from all its services, such as Gmail, YouTube and, in one place to create a single user profile.

However, it still appeared possible to opt out of the web history data collection feature, at least in Gmail accounts early Thursday morning. (Steps on how to suspend web history at article's end.)

Even if you haven't disabled the web history feature, there's little cause for concern if you follow a few simple online privacy steps.

To avoid your user information from being collected stay logged out when conducting searches, or use different logins for each site.

Google will still be able to collect data if you're logged out, but only by the computer's IP address, instead of the individual.

"If you can avoid signing in during an online session, you should," London, Ont.-based technology expert Carmi Levy said in an earlier interview with CTV News Channel about Internet privacy.

Levy also recommends clearing your browser history (cache) once a week to remove items such as tracking cookies, small forms that save information that you may want to keep private.

Google said combining privacy policies of its more than 70 products was done with users in mind and it streamlined the text.

"In short, we'll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience," wrote Alma Whitten, Google's director of privacy, product and engineering, in a blog post.

Canada's privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said the company's attempt to create a more user-friendly privacy policy was a "step in the right direction."

But users aren't being told enough about how to opt-out of the plan, she wrote in a Feb. 23 letter to Google.

"We would strongly encourage you to make it clearer to users that if they are uncomfortable with these new uses of information, they can create separate accounts. This is not clearly stated in your new policy," she wrote.

Stoddart also said it's not apparent how long it will take for personal information to be deleted when requested by a user. Google hasn't responded to her letter.

Meanwhile, France's privacy regulator has said the new policy is violation of the European Union's data protection rules.

Its privacy agency is "deeply concerned" about data collection across all services and it has "strong doubts about the lawfulness and fairness of such processing," it wrote in a letter to Google.

How to remove your search history:

Log in to your Google account.

On the right-hand side of the page, click your email address to pull up the drop-down menu.

If you want to read more about the policy, click "Privacy." Otherwise, click "Account Settings."

In the Services section, click "Go to web history."

Click the "Remove all Web History" button. A prompt will appear to confirm the selection. Click "OK."

You may also want to delete your YouTube viewing and search history. To do this, click YouTube on the toolbar at the top of the Google homepage.

On the right-hand side, click your user name and select "Video Manager" from the drop-down menu.

Click "History" on the left, then "Clear all viewing history." Refresh the page, then click "Pause viewing history."

To clear search history, click "Search History," then the "Clear all search history" button. Refresh the page, and click "Pause search history.