For Google, a company that has built its reputation on organizing global information, the final selling point to users is that it will try to do more with less.
At its I/O 2022 developer conference on May 11, the tech giant announced a series of privacy measures it says will help users retain more control over how their data is used by users. Google apps and displayed to the world via search.
A new change introduced at the conference is the My Ad Center interface: a hub that will allow users to customize the types of ads they see by selecting from a range of topics that interest them or choosing to see fewer ads. announcements on a given topic.
Google says My Ad Center will help give users control over not only how their data is used, but also how it affects their web experience.
In another announcement unveiled at the conference, Google said users could request that personal information such as email or address details be removed from search results through a new tool that will be accessible from a user’s Google profile page.
Perhaps for a developer conference, some of Google’s biggest privacy announcements involved changing approaches to software engineering. The safety and security segment of the event, led by Jen Fitzpatrick, Google’s Senior Vice President for Core Systems and Experiences, emphasized the concept of “protected computing”: a set of technologies that Google says represent a transformed approach to where and how data is processed.
In summary, protected computing means that more data will be processed on devices (eg Android phones) without being sent to Google’s cloud servers. And when the user information is sent to Google’s servers, more of it will be anonymized through techniques such as the use of differential privacy and edge computing.
Fitzpatrick said the changes were intended to vindicate the trust users place in Google to protect them.
“Protecting your privacy requires that we be rigorous in building products that are private by design,” she said.
The safety and security presentation included an acknowledgment that user privacy expectations are changing and the company must: recognize and adapt. It’s worth noting that Google is increasingly trying to prove to users that it can keep at least some of their data out of the hands of advertisers who bring in the vast majority of the company’s revenue.
And under the guiding statement, “secure by default, private by design,” Google is also working to strengthen user security across all of its products by implementing additional security measures out of the box.
Security announcements made at the I/O event included a number of measures intended to increase user protection on a range of Google products. For one, a new account security status icon will display a warning on a user’s profile in all Google apps when security issues are identified and direct the user to recommended actions to fix the issue. .
And the company will extend two-step verification for accounts by sending an “Is this you?” to phones when a user tries to sign in to a Google Account elsewhere on the web.
Phishing protection will also be available in the Google Workspace suite, with the Docs, Sheets and Slides apps soon to show warning notifications about malicious links in documents.
Overall, Google’s security announcements suggest a company that wants to be seen as focused on user security concerns. At an I/O event filled with new and creative uses of user data, it’s heartening to see that, on the face of it, privacy has by no means been overlooked.