Have you ever wondered how Google keeps your information private and puts you more in control of your data? Check out Eliza’s World, a privacy comic book created by Google to educate the public about how the company protects people’s data.
The comic book was announced during the latest Decode Series by Google, an ongoing educational session where the company shares in-depth how Google products work.
The story is about a day in the life of Eliza, who, like many of us, uses technology and Google products to get things done. The comic explains how location information can help you get around, how emails stay private, and how ads are mixed in with Search results. There’s even a short explainer on how Eliza sees an ad for a particular chocolate while reading an article—after talking about that chocolate with her family just a while back (“No, Google wasn’t listening in!”).
“Privacy has always been a priority at Google. In 2020, we saw searches for ‘online privacy’ grow by more than 50% and in the same year, 81% of consumers said that they’ve become more concerned with how their data is used,” said Greg Fair, Product Manager, Privacy and Data Protection at Google. “We recognize that data and transparency are of utmost importance to our customers and as expectations about privacy evolve, we at Google continue to ensure that people are aware of what data is collected, how it is used, and how they can stay in control.”
Putting people in control of their data and experience
Google provides helpful and personalized experiences through data that has been authorized by end-users to be sent to Google. Google Maps, for instance, uses data to help people remember places they’ve been and provide personalized information such as nearby or recommended restaurants.
Across Google services, the company uses anonymized user data to personalize and improve products and make them better for everyone. For example, when people navigate with Google Maps, aggregate location data can be used to understand traffic conditions on roads all over the world.
People are always in control of their data. At any point, they can choose to turn off their location history or choose to have it be automatically deleted after 3 or 18 months.
Building privacy by design in all products
Google’s products and services are built with privacy and security by design.
For instance, Google Assistant is made to wait in standby mode until commanded by “Hey Google” or “OK Google,” while audio retention and saving of data are turned off by default. Mobile phone owners are also provided with controls to turn off cameras and mics, and are provided with a clear visual indicator (like flashing dots on top of a device or an on-screen indicator) when active.
Google Assistant is designed to provide transparency and control for screenless experiences. Google Home lets people ask questions like “What data does Google collect?” and gives a direct answer. Other privacy-related actions like “Delete what I just said” or “That wasn’t for you” deletes the most recent Assistant activity. It can also delete audio recordings for specific timeframes (up to two weeks) through commands like “Delete what I said this week” or “Delete my activity from today.”
The My Activity tool can also be used to view or delete data that is collected from interactions with Assistant.
Personalizing ads without using sensitive information
Search only provides ads related to a person’s Search query. This helps Google personalize ads so they’re more useful and relevant. Private data such as email content, photos, documents or sensitive information like health, race, religion, or sexual orientation are never used to personalize ads.
Search ads are marked with labels like ‘ad’ or ‘sponsored’. If there are no useful ads related to a person’s search query, Google won’t show any ads at all. Advertisers are only charged once customers click on the ad.
Delivering advanced security technology
Google protects customers’ data through industry-leading security technologies that automatically block a wide range of security threats, including attempts to obtain personal information.
After recently phasing out third-party cookies, Google confirmed that it will no longer be building alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will the company use them in its products. Instead, Google’s web products will be powered by privacy-preserving APIs which prevent individual tracking while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers.
Google constantly ensures that ad experiences are safe on their platforms by continually innovating, collaborating with the industry, and building towards a more privacy-focused, and healthy ads industry.