Google reassures users on privacy and security thanks to pressure from the UK

Google has created a hub to manage privacy and security settings in one place as well as a website that answers key questions about how Google stores and uses people's personal information.

The news comes after the search giant committed to change its privacy policy in January, promising to meet the requirements of the Data Protection Act, after it was called to attention by the Information Commissioners' Office. Prior to yesterday's update, it last changed its privacy policy in 2012, when it combined around 70 disparate existing policies for various services and apps.

Google stores and analyses personal and browsing data to push targeted advertising to users, as well as improve the services it offers. Its main goal is to learn more about its users so it can provide more useful services and monetise them. Until now its privacy and security settings were separate from each other. This new Google account dashboard will make it easier to adjust advertisement settings as well as, browsing, location and search history.

Under the sign-in and security tab, users will be able to change their password, manage app-specific password, check how many devices are active on your Google account and set a recovery address.

The new privacy section allows users to control your history and lists the services they use through like by Search, Maps, YouTube through Google, and turn them off. It also allows users to set an account trustee to manage your account in the case of death or imprisonment.

The account preference tab will let users set their language, manage Google Drive storage and delete their account if necessary.

Security and privacy is a hot topic for Google. During its developer conference, Google I/O, it announced that the next Android OS release - Android M - would have improved privacy permissions for apps. This means less off-putting privacy policies that may scare off Google Play store users when purchasing or updating an app.

Responding to nervousness around the amount of information Google holds, it also launched a website to clarify how the search giant uses people's data on its blog yesterday.

The site will make it clearer to see how information is stored and analysed, and cements the firm's promise to never hand users' personal information to advertisers. "We do not sell your personal information", it states.

With improvements in its natural language systems, which power the Now on Tap service for mobile apps (similar to iOS' Siri) this privacy policy will be heavily scrutinised as concerns over use of voice data and app access to microphones have been raised.

Guemmy Kim, the product manager for Google's account controls and settings said: "When you trust your personal information with us, you should expect powerful controls that keep it safe and private as well as useful answers to your questions. Today's launches are just the latest in our ongoing efforts to protect you and your information on Google. There's much more to come, and we look forward to your feedback."


Margi Murphy

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