Google is rolling out some important changes that will make it easier for people who use their services to control their data.
They're starting with their most widely used service, which is search. In the weeks ahead, it will be easier than ever for users to delete their search history, on both PC and Android devices.
The official company announcement reads, in part, as follows:
"Today, we're making it easier for you to make decisions about your data directly within the Google products you use every day, starting with Search. 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.
For example, to control the ads you see when you search, we give you access to your Ad Settings. Additionally, you can access your Activity Controls to decide what information Google saves to your account and uses to make Search and other Google services faster, smarter, and more useful."
As things stand now, the only way it's possible to access this kind of information and see how Google uses your data is by using your Google Account. The coming change makes it substantially easier, and Search is just the tip of the iceberg. Next year, similar changes will be coming to Google Maps, with other services following behind those two.
This is good news, and the early response from privacy advocates has been positive. Of course, the jury will still be out until we see the new implementation in action. However, based on the announcement, these changes represent a big step forward that will put more control in the hands of the individual user. That can't be seen as anything other than a positive development.