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Google Centralizes Security, Privacy For Web, Android Users

Google's new account hub, for users of its Web services and Android smartphones, gives IT organizations a new tool to improve employee awareness of security and privacy.

Following its developer conference last week, on Monday Google enhanced its security and privacy offerings with a unified security page and a Web resource for those with privacy questions.

For IT organizations that have to deal with the intricacies of employee devices in the workplace and shadow IT, Google's effort to educate users about security and privacy provide a potential opportunity to raise awareness of issues that confront every company.

In a blog post, Google product manager Guemmy Kim said the company wants to change the perception that people are unable to control their personal information.

"Privacy and security are two sides of the same coin: If your information isn't secure, it certainly can't be private," said Kim.

According to a Pew Research study published last month and cited in Kim's blog, only 9% of the 498 survey respondents polled in fall 2014 expressed confidence that they have "a lot" of control over the information collected about them. Pew's researchers explain the evident doubt by noting that Edward Snowden's 2013 revelations about NSA data gathering "have contributed to a cloud of personal 'data insecurity' that now looms over many Americans' daily decisions and activities."

This cloud over cloud computing affects companies beyond Google.

Facebook's decision on Monday to support OpenPGP public keys in user profiles comes from the same need to help consumers feel comfortable amid the largely unchecked data gathering practiced by advertisers, information brokers, and intelligence agencies.

The political tempest in Washington over the Patriot Act and the USA Freedom Act also flows from the same weather system.

Google's revised My Account page puts security and privacy controls in one place. It provides access to sign-in and security settings, personal information and privacy settings, and account preferences. It also includes Security Checkup and Privacy Checkup guides, which take users through a step-by-step review of important security and privacy settings.

The Security Checkup covers: account recovery information, connected devices, account permissions, app passwords, Gmail settings, and 2-step authentication settings.

The Privacy Checkup covers: Google+ profile information, phone number visibility for users of other Google services, settings that affect personalization in Google services, and ad relevance settings.

The My Account page also includes a link to Google's new privacy and security answers resource. It amounts to a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs), though Google, shunning Internet vernacular, refers to them as common questions.

The questions include:

  • "What data does Google collect?"
  • "What does Google do with the data it collects?"
  • "Does Google sell my personal information?"

To find out how Google answers these questions, visit privacy.google.com.