For Google, a company that built its reputation on organizing the world’s information, the ultimate selling point for 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 maintain greater control over how Google apps use their data and how it is stored. show the world through search.
A new change introduced at the conference is the My Ad Center interface: a center that will allow users to customize the types of ads they see by selecting from a variety of topics that interest them or opting to see fewer ads on a given topic.
Google says that My Ad Center will help users control not only how their data is used, but also how it affects their experience on the web.
In a separate announcement 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 the user’s Google profile page.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a conference aimed at developers, some of Google’s biggest privacy announcements involved changing approaches to software engineering. The event’s security and safety segment, led by Jen Fitzpatrick, senior vice president of core systems and experiences at Google, emphasized the concept of “protected computing” — a set of technologies that Google says represent a transformed approach to where and how the data is processed.
In short, protected computing means that more data will be processed on devices (for example, Android phones) without sending it to Google’s cloud servers. And when the user information it is sent to Google servers, a greater part will be anonymized through techniques such as the use of differential privacy and edge computing.
Fitzpatrick said the changes were about justifying the trust users place in Google to keep them safe.
“Protecting your privacy requires us to be rigorous in building products that are private by design,” he said.
The presentation on safety and security included an acknowledgment that users’ expectations of privacy are changing and that the company has a need to recognize and adapt to them. It’s notable that Google is increasingly trying to prove to users that it can keep at least some of their data out of the reach of advertisers who bring in the masses of most of the company’s income.
And under the guiding statement, “secure by default, private by design,” Google is also pushing to increase 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 series of measures intended to increase protection for users across a variety of Google products. For one thing, a new account security status icon will display a warning on a user’s profile across all Google apps when security issues are identified and direct the user to recommended actions to correct the issue.
And the company will expand two-step verification for accounts by sending an “Is that you?” notification to phones when a user attempts to sign in to a Google account elsewhere on the web.
Phishing protection is also coming to the Google Workspace suite, with the Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps soon displaying warning notifications about malicious links in documents.
In general, Google’s security ads suggest a company that wants to be seen as the center of users’ security concerns. In an I/O event filled with new and creative uses of user data, it’s encouraging to see that, at first glance, privacy was by no means forgotten.