Google is introducing two features that aim to give users more control over their personal information apart from unveiling a technology toolkit that changes how, when, and where, the data is processed to ensure its privacy and safety, the company said at its annual developer conference Google I/O 2022.
In the coming months, Google said it will make it easier for people to request the removal of search results that consist of personal contact information such as phone numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. It will be available on the Google app. Alternatively, users will also be able to access it by clicking the three dots next to individual Google Search results.
In April 2022, Google had announced that it is expanding the type of personal information that users can request to be removed from search results.
Under the new policy expansion, people can request removal of personal contact information like a phone number, email address, or physical address. It also allows for the removal of additional information that may pose a risk for identity theft, such as confidential log-in credentials, when it appears in search results.
"When we receive removal requests, we will evaluate all content on the web page to ensure that we're not limiting the availability of other information that is broadly useful, for instance in news articles. We'll also evaluate if the content appears as part of the public record on the sites of government or official sources. In such cases, we won't make removals" the company said in a blogpost at the time.
Previously, Google primarily allowed removal requests for sensitive, personally identifiable information such as bank account or credit card details.
New way to control ads you see
At the event, the internet giant also announced plans to make it easier to control the ads users see on Google Search, YouTube and Discover feed by rolling out more controls in their ads privacy settings.
My Ad Center, which will be available towards the end of this year, will enable users to choose the types of ads they want to see across various topics, such as fitness, vacation rentals or skincare, as well as learn more about the information the tech giant uses to show these ads to them.
The company is also launching virtual cards on Chrome and Android, that will replace the user's actual card number with a distinct, virtual number when they use autofill to enter their payment details at checkout page on online shopping websites. The feature will launch in the United States later this year for Visa, American Express, Mastercard, and Capital One cards.
Users will be able to enable this feature for eligible cards, access their virtual card number, and see recent virtual card transactions at Google Pay website.
Google also introduced Protected Computing, a growing toolkit of technologies that protects user data irrespective of where and when it is processed.
Through this, the company aims to focus on three areas: minimizing user's footprint of personally identifiable data, using a range of anonymisation techniques to de-identify the user from their data and making it technically impossible for anyone, including themselves, to access user's sensitive data through technologies such as end-to-end encryption and secure enclaves.
Protected Computing is currently powering some of features across Google's suite of products including the smart reply feature in the Messages app, live translation on Pixel smartphone, and compromised password alerts on Google Chrome.
"While we're continuing to innovate new applications across our products, we're equally focused on using Protected Computing to unlock the potential of data to benefit society more broadly — for example, by enabling even more robust aggregated and anonymised datasets so we can safely do everything from help cities reduce their carbon footprint, to accelerate new medical breakthroughs" Jen Fitzpatrick, SVP, Core Systems & Experiences, Google said in a blogpost.Besides this, Google is extending Gmail's phishing and malware protections to its productivity suite that includes Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. A new Account Safety status feature will also alert users on actions they can take to secure their account through a simple yellow alert icon on the user's profile picture.