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Google makes it easier to understand what data you’re giving it

Google shows us what we show it.


AJ Dellinger


We give Google a lot of personal information, sometimes without realizing it. On Tuesday, fulfilling a promise that it made during last week’s Google I/O, the search giant redesigned its My Account page to show users what data they surrender and what the company does with it.

“According to a recent Pew study, 93 percent of people think it’s important to control access to their personal information, and 90 percent care about the type of information that’s collected about them,” Account Controls and Settings Product Manager Guemmy Kim wrote in a blog post. “”But only 9 percent feel they have ‘a lot’ of control over it. We want to change that.”

The new My Account page displays the information Google services collect and provides context for how it is used. Among the page’s new features are two step-by-step guides, Privacy Checkup and Security Checkup, that walk users through their current settings and suggest tweaks to improve privacy and security.

My Account also gives users more control over what information can be used in Google products like Search, Maps, and YouTube. If you want to turn off location settings or Web activity, you can—although Google slyly warns you that doing so will make your browsing experience less convenient.

That is always the trade-off that comes with using free services where your data is the price: the more you data give them, the more convenient the experience gets. But the more convenience you receive, the more privacy you surrender. 

In the same Pew Research Center study that Kim quoted, nearly 70 percent of people say they have little confidence that the records maintained by search engines, social networks, and video sites will remain private and secure. Google fits into all three of those categories, so it’s hard not to see this new initiative as at least partially a response to those concerns.

You’re going to have to make a choice—or find a balance—between luxury and security. But at least with My Accounts, Google is giving you the option to do so.

Image via Google

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