Privacy Concerns

Google Increases User Privacy Controls

Google Increases User Privacy Controls
Image credit: MiBSi | Flickr

Google increased privacy controls for users and rolled out a website on Monday that answers frequently asked questions in response to increasing concern over how the search giant collects and uses its massive amounts of data.

Users have been able to control certain privacy settings for months or years, such as whether to save web browser and location history, which is also used in targeted advertising.

But managing the controls is confusing and time consuming because the settings are in various places across the web that are not always easy to find.

Now users will be able to use My Account, which provides a privacy checkup and security checkup, or lists where people can check off which data they want to be public and private.

Google's new website answers frequently asked questions, such as whether the company sells personal data and what information is given to advertisers.

"We knew that users find privacy and security really mysterious so we wanted to make it very approachable," said Guemmy Kim, product manager for account controls and settings.

Data control has become increasingly important to users in recent years as more day-to-day activity has moved to the Internet.

In 2013, Edward Snowden leaked classified documents that showed the U.S. National Security Agency was engaging in mass collection of phone records, placing companies that have enormous amounts of data, such as Google, Facebook and Apple, under increasing scrutiny.

Only 9 percent of people in a recent Pew survey felt they had a "lot" of control over their data.

Monday's rollout comes on the heels of newly increased app permissions for Android, which Google announced at its annual developer’s conference last week. The new system mirrors the app permissions on Apple's iPhones, which do not allow apps to automatically access numerous types of data, such as location or phone contacts.

(Reporting By Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Michael Perry)

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