Google: Expect email from us on our new policy on harvesting your personal data

Google will be emailing millions of its users to tell them about its redesigned privacy policy.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Google has updated the presentation of its privacy policy ahead of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into force in a few weeks.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and Google is adopting this approach to its new privacy policy that will roll out on May 25, the day GDPR takes effect in Europe, introducing stricter rules on data collection, usage and consent.

The layout of the new privacy policy, which is available to view today, has been noticeably simplified compared with the current one.

The contents are largely unchanged, but rather than using text-heavy chapters with descriptions and bullet points, the new policy leads with a list of content categories that can be clicked to hop to each section of the policy.

See: Special report: Turning big data into business insights (free PDF)

Each section of the policy now includes illustrations or short YouTube videos that explain in simple language what the policy means and what devices and services it covers, including Android, Chrome, Search, Maps, YouTube and Google Home.

The purpose of the redesign is to make it easier for users to find information about what data Google collects and understand why it does it. It also offers links within the policy that lead to privacy settings.

"We've improved the navigation and organization of the policy to make it easier to find what you're looking for; explained our practices in more detail and with clearer language; and added more detail about the options you have to manage, export, and delete data from our services," William Malcolm, director of privacy legal at Google EMEA, wrote in a blogpost.

Google will also be emailing all its users to inform them about the new policy, meaning billions of people are set to receive the notification.

Another part of Google's GDPR compliance effort focuses on data portability. To support this issue, Google recently released the Data Transfer Project on GitHub, which currently offers "early-stage" open-source code that will eventually be available for any developer to enable direct transfers of data between two services.

"Data Transfer Project envisions an ecosystem of adapters that convert a range of proprietary formats into a small number of canonical formats useful for transferring data," Google says on its GitHub page.

"This allows data transfer between any two service providers using the service provider's existing authorization mechanism, and allows each service provider to maintain control over the security of their service."

To encourage service providers to adopt the technology, the project draws a distinction between a user's data and a service provider's data.

"Portability should not extend to data collected to make a service operate, including data generated to improve system performance or train models that may be commercially sensitive or proprietary."

Find out more: What is GDPR? Everything you need to know about the new general data protection regulations

Finally, Google is rolling out its Family Link Android app to all countries within the EU. Until now the Family Link service was only available in the UK and Ireland in the EU.

The app lets parents create a Google Account for their child's Android device and manage what apps their children can use.

"Under the new rules, companies must get consent from parents to process their children's data in certain circumstances," notes Malcolm.

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