Sometimes it feels like finding a service's privacy options is akin to searching for the Holy Grail. You're pretty sure they exist, and plenty of people claim to have found them, but the journey is far longer than you could've ever anticipated. Google wants to make it easier to find that metaphorical cup by updating its apps with front-and-center privacy options, it announced in a blog post today. It's starting with Search on the web, with others coming later.
Google has been vocal about its efforts to make it easier for people to manage their privacy when they use its services. Earlier this year, the company introduced a new Google Account "experience," offering easy access to account management tools. The update also provided more details about the "personal info ... devices, payment methods, purchases, subscriptions, reservations and contacts" connected to an account.
The company has also made various security improvements to Android, revealed plans to make Chrome extensions more secure and otherwise assured people their data is safe. But there's a difference between a company securing the information it gathers about you and the company making it easy for you to manage that data. This update to Search is supposed to help with the latter problem.
"Before today, if you were searching on Google and wanted to review or manage this data, the best way for you to do that would have been to visit your Google Account. Now, we’re bringing these controls to you – from directly within Search, you can review or delete your Search activity and quickly get back to finding what you were searching for," Google explained in its post.
The move is a medium between not allowing people to manage the information associated with them and not collecting that data in the first place. Other companies are working on the latter problem--Mozilla, DuckDuckGo and many others have all worked to offer compelling services that respect privacy. For those who still use Google's products, though, it's heartening to see the company make privacy controls more accessible.
Google said the updated Search experience is available now on the desktop and mobile web. The easier-to-access privacy controls will make their way to Search's apps for iOS and Android too "in the coming weeks." Similar options will expand to Google Maps some time next year and will be " "followed by many other Google products" on an unspecified timeline. This might not be the Holy Grail, but at least it's a piece of one.
"... allowing people to manage the locally stored information..."?
I seriously doubt that any data collected by Google will actually be deleted from all servers and back-ups, but only marked as "hidden from user".