Google un­veils por­tal for users to delete data it has about them

The search gi­ant makes it eas­ier to tin­ker with pri­vacy set­tings.

Los Angeles Times - - TECHNOLOGY - By Paresh Dave paresh.dave@la­times.com Twit­ter: @peard33

Un­end­ing scru­tiny from reg­u­la­tors is keep­ing pres­sure on Google Inc. to get bet­ter about ex­plain­ing how it tracks users and how they can tin­ker with pri­vacy set­tings.

On Mon­day, Google un­veiled a web­site at pri­vacy.google.com that an­swers ques­tions more clearly than ever.

Google keeps a record of what web­sites users visit, where they travel and what videos they watch on YouTube, but it doesn’t sell in­for­ma­tion that would iden­tify them. If they use Gmail and Drive, Google also has ac­cess to the con­tents of their emails and doc­u­ments.

Col­lect­ing all of that in­for­ma­tion makes its ser­vices more use­ful, rel­e­vant and se­cure, Google says. The data also are es­sen­tial to its busi­ness of show­ing ads across the In­ter­net, which pro­duces huge prof­its and 90% of the com­pany’s rev­enue.

A 500-per­son se­cu­rity team at the 55,000-em­ployee com­pany, and tech­nolo­gies such as en­cryp­tion, are de­ployed to pro­tect the data, Google said.

But peo­ple who are con­cerned about their pri­vacy or the se­cu­rity of that data have op­tions. Google in­tro­duced a re­vamped pri­vacy con­trol cen­ter to show peo­ple how they can turn off fea­tures such as lo­ca­tion track­ing on their smartphones or ad­ver­tis­ing that is based on search queries and Web vis­its.

For in­stance, Web-go­ers might want to delete their brows­ing his­tory af­ter vis­its to web­sites that could raise sus­pi­cions with their boss, par­ents or spouses. But Google’s new pri­vacy web­site notes that depend­ing on users’ set­tings, Google might also have an eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble record of those Web vis­its. The pri­vacy tool points to a Google page where those logs can be scrubbed.

Google said “there’s much more to come” to make its vast data­bases of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion eas­ier to nav­i­gate.

The com­pany has had to an­swer to reg­u­la­tors in Ger­many, the Nether­lands and else­where who have raised pri­vacy con­cerns. In April, Euro­pean Union of­fi­cials also ac­cused Google of abus­ing its search en­gine dom­i­nance to fa­vor its own com­par­i­son shop­ping ser­vices over those of its ri­vals.

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