Google really wants you to feel in control of your data, and has unveiled a new hub for privacy and security settings across all its services to help you get a grip. My Account lets internet users with or without a Google account check exactly what information they're giving away on Google Maps, YouTube, Gmail, and Google itself. There's also a pair of step-by-step checkups for privacy and security settings (similar to Facebook's Privacy Checkup tool) that help users get an overview of their current choices. You can check what devices are logging into your account, for example, or stop Google from recording information such as your location history.
An easy way to do some digital spring cleaning
For each particular setting, Google does remind you why it's in your best interests to let the company keep the data (faster searches and more relevant ads for example), but there's no feeling that you're being coerced. And although the hub is not as centralized as it could be (for example, you can stop Google recording your YouTube history but you have to click an external link to delete what's already there), it's an easy and uncluttered way to get an overview of your settings. You can also perform useful spring cleaning tasks like downloading a copy of your data, or designating a trustee who can access and delete your account if you die. Nothing like writing a digital will to make data management light-hearted.
In a blog post announcing the new feature, Google flags up a recent survey from Pew Internet revealing that although 90 percent of Americans think that managing what data is stored about them is important, only 9 percent feel they have "a lot" of control. Features like My Account and Google's new app permissions in Android M should help people feel a little better, but it doesn't change the fact that Google still relies on adverts and customer data to make money. And with the company's machine learning tech able to pull information out of previously un-categorizable content like photos, the future of Google is a company that can collect more information — not less.