New Google My Account Manages Privacy, Security Settings

Google announced the availability of My Account, a new dashboard where users can manage and evaluate their privacy and security settings.

Less than a week after announcing some welcome changes that keep Android mobile app permissions in check, Google on Monday announced a new privacy and security settings tool.

My Account walks users through their Google account’s privacy and security settings, points out potential shortcomings and makes recommendations along the way. Users can use My Account to get a high-level view of their settings, rather than having to fish through the cumbersome and sometimes confusing account settings tab available through a browser.

“My Account gives you quick access to the settings and tools that help you safeguard your data, protect your privacy, and decide what information is used to make Google services work better for you,” said Guemmy Kim, product manager, Google account controls and settings. “It also provides more context to help you understand your options and make the right choices for you.”

Inside My Account, there are separate privacy and security checks. The privacy check helps users review the data Google users to personalize an account—and tailor ads. Users are presented with a number of options, including what Google-Plus profile information is shared publicly. Users can also manage who is able to see videos posted to their YouTube account, and secure saved playlists and subscriptions. The privacy check can also be used to determine what personal information is kept private or shared, such as web and app activity, YouTube search and watch history, and location and device information.

There’s also an area where users share age, gender, interests and opt-out preferences in order to be served relevant advertising.

The security checkup tab, meanwhile, starts with several account recovery checks, including a backup phone, verification code, and email. The checkup also shows the user and devices used to log in to their account and from where. This option enables a user who, for example, lives in the United States to see if someone in China is accessing their account, and report such activity.

Users are also able, through the security checkup, to disable access to applications and data that use “less secure sign-in technology,” such as apps or device that are out of date, for example.

The checkup also shows what apps, such as the Chrome browser or an RSS reader, are connected via a user’s Google account. It also performs an automated check of Gmail settings, and walks users through any weak spots.

Google has also built a new website, a FAQ-style site that answers privacy- and security-related questions about the data Google collects, what it does with the data, what personal information is sold, what tools users have to control data that’s shared, an explainer on what Google does to keep personal data secure, and online security tips.

“When you trust your personal information with us, you should expect powerful controls that keep it safe and private as well as useful answers to your questions,” Kim said.

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