Google is revamping its privacy settings, the company announced in a blogpost this morning, to help “keep your information safe and put you in control of it.”
The search giant has built a hub called “My Account” that places links to change users’ privacy and security settings in one place. The service aims to “[give] you quick access to the settings and tools that help you safeguard your data, protect your privacy, and decide what information is used to make Google services work better for you,” according to Guemmy Kim, a Product Manager at Google.
Controls include basic profile details, such as passwords and usernames, as well as managing permitted devices, viewing advertising interests, and language settings. None of the settings have actually been changed in the update — they have just been collected in one place. Each setting also explains why Google wants to harvest this data. Under “places you go,” for example, it says that collecting users’ location histories helps to “provide improved map searches, commute routes and more.”
In the blog post, Google points to a a Pew study that says that 93% of people “think it’s important to control access to their personal information,” but that only 9% of people “feel they have ‘a lot’ of control over it.”
As consumers become more savvy about the data held about them by companies, there has been a push for the companies to be more transparent about the process, and provide stronger controls. Google isn’t the only tech company currently doubling down on privacy issues. Facebook has also announced a new pro-privacy feature today — but of a very different kind.
The social network will now let users add their encryption key to their profiles to encourage others to contact them using encryption, and will also send users emails in an encrypted format if requested. Encryption is currently a controversial issue: Authorities worry that the increased use of strong encryption will make it harder to catch criminals, but security experts counter that deliberately weakening or adding “back doors” to encryption products will leave users vulnerable to hackers.