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In an Stupefying Announcement, Google Just Decided to Do What People Have Wanted For Years

Why did it take so long?

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BY Chris Matyszczyk - 25 Oct 2018


PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


When Google has something new to say, what does it do?

Oh, write a little blog post, of course.

Who can be surprised, then, that the our Lords and Search Masters whipped out an announcement on their blog yesterday that actually helps people do what they've long wished they could.

It starts with what many might call a blatant, stultifying misrepresentation:

We're always working on making it easier for you to understand and control your data so you can make privacy choices that are right for you.

For so many years Google did everything it could to make sure that the only people who controlled your data worked for Google.

The company's founders long had a contempt for advertising. But when they discovered how much money they could make out of it, they decided it was something they could tolerate.

In order to make a lot of money out it, Google had to make sure it had as much personal data at its disposal as possible.

This was one of the principal reasons it created the human desert known as Google+.

But now it's changed its ways. This will, of course, have nothing to do with being fined 4.34 billion Euros by the European Commission for its anti-competitive practices.

It'll surely have nothing to do, too, with the general feeling that Google and Facebook were blind or careless with respect to the way nefarious Russians used their services to promulgate falsities during the 2016 Elections.

Now, though, Google is a different Google. Its blog post continues:

Earlier this year, we launched a new Google Account experience that puts your privacy and security front and center, and we updated our Privacy Policy with videos and clearer language to better describe the information we collect, why we collect it, and how you can control it.

Because previously your privacy was perched at the back of the auditorium, just next to the program sellers.

Still, let's focus for a brief moment on how Google is now improving things:

Without ever leaving Search, you can now review and delete your recent Search activity, get quick access to the most relevant privacy controls in your Google Account, and learn more about how Search works with your data.

Google used to make you go to your account to make privacy changes. Why? In the hope that you wouldn't do it.

But as it's become the subject of scrutiny, even by Congress, Google wants to show it has a reasonable side.

Well, it's hard to reasonable when you're making the world a better place, isn't it?

It's lovely how Google is suddenly making privacy user-friendly. The company says:

Now, we're bringing these controls to you -- from directly within Search, you can review or delete your Search activity and quickly get back to finding what you were searching for.

Which Google could have done years ago.

In an odd coincidence, Apple CEO Tim Cook yesterday railed against what he called "the data industrial complex."

Without mentioning Google and Facebook -- you knew that's exactly whom he was referring to -- Cook made a very simple statement about their data activities: "This is surveillance."

Suddenly, Google appears to fear you've realized, so it's playing nice. It's giving you a chance to delete your search history, still secretly hoping you won't.

How different the world might have been if Google had really done no evil all along.

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