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Google I/O: Updates Aim to Better Protect User Security and Privacy


Google says its latest artificial intelligence-powered improvements will make it better at identifying malicious sites and phishing emails, as well as deciphering where images have been spotted online before and just how authentic they may be.

In addition, all US Google users will get the ability to search the so-called “dark web” for their Gmail address and will have access to new privacy controls that will let them do things like bar apps from tracking their location and more easily delete their recent searches from Google Maps.  

The new features were rolled out at Google I/O, the company’s annual conference for developers, which kicked off Wednesday with the usual keynote presentation hosted by CEO Sundar Pichai.


Watch this: Google Shows New Bard Generative AI Tools at I/O

On an enterprise level, the company also says AI is now allowing it to expand its Content Safety API to include video content. The API is used by platforms like Facebook to process billions of images each month and screen them for evidence of child sex abuse.

Wednesday’s announcements come about a week after Google said it would allow passkey sign in on its platform, allowing users to replace their passwords with what many security experts say is an easier and more secure login method

“Our commitment to keeping you safe online starts with building products that are secure by default, private by design and put you in control,” Jen Fitzpatrick, Google’s senior vice president for core systems and experiences, said in a Wednesday blog post. “And by combating the spread of online abuse, we provide you with reliable access to trustworthy information.”

Here’s a quick look at Google’s new security and privacy features.

About this image. The feature harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to help users figure out just where a particular image originated and where else it’s been spotted online. Users will get instant context, such as where the image was first indexed by Google and where else it’s popped up, like a news, social media or fact-checking site. 

Keeping kids safer. Google’s AI-powered Content Safety API, which has been publicly available since 2018 and used by platforms and organizations around the world to identify and review possible images involving the sexual abuse of children, is being expanded to include video content. Google says the move will go a long way to improve child safety, noting that video accounts for nearly half of all files reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

More app privacy controls. Updates to Android 14 will give users a better idea about how their data is being collected and used by apps. Specifically, when it comes to location data, users will get a permission request if an app wants to share their data with a third party for advertising purposes. Users will be able to decide for themselves whether to approve or decline each of those requests. Google also is adding a new “Data deletion” area within each app’s Google Play Data safety section, making it easy to request that your account or other data be deleted.

Quicker search deletion in Maps. Right now users can delete Maps search history by going into their “Web & App Activity.” Now Google is adding the ability to delete recent searches directly from Maps with just a tap.

“Dark web” scans for Gmail. Access to Google’s Dark Web Report was previously available only to Google One subscribers in the US. Now, over the next few weeks, Google will be rolling it out to all US Gmail users. It’ll allow you to run scans to see if your Gmail address is posted on the so-called dark web and offer advice if it is. 

Spam filter comes to Google Drive. Google and other email providers use filters to separate out what they think are spam messages, helping to keep your inbox safer and uncluttered. Now Google is adding the same kind of filter to Google Drive, giving you a heads-up about potentially spammy files and keeping them separate from the rest in your drive.


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