Two decades after its creation, Google now says that privacy is one of its pillars: the user must be able to control at all times what data gives to the company. Google's business model, however, is to sell ads based on that user data. Privacy is a path that Google, if it is sincere, must take prudently because it could put its business model at risk. If it is not sincere, it may even sound like a trick of marketing.
Privacy is a path that Google must take prudently
"Users have universal and continuous control over their Google account to review changes and even delete information they think is no longer useful," said Mark Risher, Director of Security for Google, at the presentation of the new center on Tuesday. global security and privacy that Google has created in Munich.
The company has assembled a group of journalists from all over Europe to announce that Germany's sensitivity to privacy will become the golden rule in Google: "It is not an accident that we build our privacy center in the heart of Europe, and in a country that in many ways reflects how Europeans think about online security and privacy, "said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, in a video message.
After the famous bet of Apple and the already famous "the future is the privacy" of Mark Zuckerberg two weeks ago, now it is the turn of Google to boast about privacy. "We believe that privacy is for everyone – not just for a few," Pichai said at the annual developer conference a week ago in California.
Google will allow users to schedule a data auto-deletion every three or 18 months
The announcement of Munich adds the news that Pichai himself explained. Google will allow users to schedule a data auto-deletion every three or 18 months. It will also be easier to delete information such as location, both with Google and Android app developers. It will also extend the "incognito" option, which exists in the Chrome browser since its inception in 2009, to Maps and Youtube.
This road of data privacy is not easy. Before each step, Google warns with new explanations and notices about everything that the user loses: "Do you want to delete all your YouTube activity? Check the policies.google.com page for more information on how to remove Google your data, what data it keeps and why, "warns the page. If the user wants YouTube not to collect their search data, for example, what they can do is "pause" them. There is always a door that can be activated again.
The changes are significant especially with respect to other platforms and because they allow storage to not be eternal. More for a company like Google, which is probably the one who best knows its users. It's in a league where it only competes with Facebook.
It is not so silly
If Google nevertheless continued in this way, how would it combine the ideal of privacy with the risk of all users deleting the data that is the gasoline of their business?
First, the Google move is not that simple. At no time can you erase everything always. Google knows exactly how many people often use these options. It is very difficult to find people so concerned about their privacy as to erase each one of their searches or navigate each session incognito. And who cares so much, is no longer a customer of Google products.
Google users somehow accept an exchange: some data for some privacy. Most users do not bother enough to go through pages and pages of terms of service and unmark their data on the web, Maps or Youtube. In the new fashion of privacy, it seems that something else is done, maybe it's enough.
The picture really would only really change if companies turned privacy into "opt in" -Have to mark that you want to share your data- instead of "opt out".
The vice president of public policy, Kent Walker, has given a long explanation in Munich how Google makes money with the data:
"Most of the data we use is to improve other products, the main way we earn money is with ads in the search results, in which case we collect little information because the information search signal is strong. 6% of the searches and for any search 90% of its value is the search itself If you are looking for 'tennis racket' it is a strong indication that you want to buy a racket After that 90%, there is 5% Where you are, because the city can make one store ad better than another, although in the era of e-commerce it does not help much.The rest of the information is if you have already looked at a store before in that session. In sum, most of the value we have as a business is to respond to signals of the user's intention, the rest of the data serves to provide improvements to other products, and we are looking for ways to do it in a way that respects privacy. "
In this explanation of Walker missing at least two keys of the penultimate sentence: "What data are used to improve other products" and "how they improve." The drama is not the collection of user data, but what they infer when combined with artificial intelligence. These well-combined behavioral data tell our moods, behavioral probabilities, and ideology. And what information is taken from there? It is not known.