Sundar Pichai rolls out new privacy tools to keep your data safe


Alphabet and Google Sundar Pichai has announced new privacy improvements to keep your information safe, including changes to its data retention practices across core products to keep less data by default.

Starting today, the first time you turn on Location History (which is off by default), your auto-delete option will be set to 18 months by default.

Web and App Activity auto-delete will also default to 18 months for new accounts.

“This means your activity data will be automatically and continuously deleted after 18 months, rather than kept until you choose to delete it. You can always turn these settings off or change your auto-delete option,” Pichai said in a statement late Wednesday.

Google last year introduced auto-delete controls, which give users the choice to have Google automatically and continuously delete Location History, search, voice and YouTube activity data after 3 months or 18 months.

Google said if you’ve already had Location History and Web & App Activity turned on, it won’t be changing your settings.

“But we will actively remind you about the auto-delete controls through in-product notifications and emails, so you can choose the auto-delete setting that works for you,” said Pichai.

On YouTube, auto-delete will be set to 36 months by default if you create a new account or turn on your YouTube History for the first time.

Current users can still choose the 3 or 18 months auto-delete option.

“Default retention periods will not apply to other products like Gmail, Drive and Photos,” informed Pichai.

Google said it will make it easier to access key Google Account controls from Search.

Soon, when you’re signed into your Google Account, you’ll be able to search for things like “Google Privacy Checkup” and “Is my Google Account secure?” and a box only visible to you will show your privacy and security settings so you can easily review or adjust them.

“We’re also making it easier to access Incognito mode in our most popular apps, by long-pressing on your profile picture in Search, Maps and YouTube,” said Pichai.

It’s available on the Google App for iOS, and coming soon to Android and other apps.

“We’re also working to make it possible to stay in Incognito mode across Google apps, like Maps and YouTube, and will have more to share soon,” he added.

Each year, more than 200 million people visit Privacy Checkup.

“More than 100 million people have used Password Checkup, and they’ve seen a 30 per cent reduction in breached credentials,” said Pichai.

“Like the other elements of Security Checkup, we’ll provide the information you need to secure any at-risk accounts, automatically. Now that it’s been integrated into Google Account and Chrome, we’ll be sunsetting the Password Checkup Chrome extension in the coming months,” he added.

Google said that like it open sourced Chromium to help make the open web better, it has open sourced differential privacy library to make it easier to build privacy into products across the industry.

The company is expanding it to new programming languages including Java and Go, and releasing additional tools to help developers use machine learning to enhance privacy protections.



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