Google tweaks user password changes in search engine

Google tweaks user password changes in search engine

Summary: Google has tweaked its search engine to ensure that when users change their passwords they are signed out everywhere.


While being hammered by the government and advocacy groups over its privacy settings, Google continues to update its search and other tools with tweaks that speak to privacy.

The company Tuesday released the latest highlights of its "search quality improvements," which are algorithmic and other changes to improve the functionality of its search engine.

Included in the 50 highlighted updates was the inclusion of alterations to the handling of password changes.

Now when a user changes their password, they will be signed out of their accounts on all machines.

"This change ensures that changing your password more consistently signs your account out of Search, everywhere," Johanna Wright, director of product management, wrote on Google's Inside Search blog.

While this might not directly address concerns from lawmakers and advocacy groups as to what Google is doing with information on the back-end it certainly ensures users that vulnerabilities won't be left exposed when changing their sign-on credentials.

In February, Google faced a firestorm of protests and courtroom dramas aimed at delaying changes to its new privacy policies, which went live March 1. The furor has died down, but the overall privacy debate is in full swing.

Just last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued its report entitled "Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change." The report included best-practice recommendations for commercial entities that collect or use consumer data.

Google responded by saying it will add a "Do Not Track" button to its Chrome browser by the end of the year. Google had previously resisted such a move.

Internet Explorer 9, Firefox and Safari all have the technology in their browsers, although there are varying critiques on how easy it is to activate the technology.

Google is already required to file reports with the FTC on how it's improving privacy for users. The  requirement is part of a consent order the company signed with the FTC in October. The order is part of a settlement with the agency over privacy violations related to the roll out of Google Buzz in 2010.

Topics: Browser, Google, Legal, Security


John Fontana is a journalist focusing on authentication, identity, privacy and security issues. Currently, he is the Identity Evangelist for strong authentication vendor Yubico, where he also blogs about industry issues and standards work, including the FIDO Alliance.

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  • It's their business model . . . stupid

    Since they learned how to profile people from their searches in the early days, Google has made money by collecting data on their users and using that to target advertising. That is how they exist. For them to honestly stopping tracking users would be commercial suicide.

    The problem is that no one knows how much data they have accumulated on how many billions of users all over the world. How is it stored, and when will it be leaked or sold? The advertising business model has existed for centuries, but the ability to stock huge amounts of data, indefinitely, makes the process inifinitely more dangerous.