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Google takes baby steps toward privacy

Facebook held their F8 Developer Conference providing us with insights into Facebooks newest changes, with the biggest take away being the “The future is private”. At Googles Developer Conference held on the 7th May – 9 May 2019 we see that Google wants to have it all! More data, more devices in your home and not surprising, a little more privacy to go with it!

New Smart Hub

Google unveiled their latest hardware and software offerings including a larger version of Home Hub, with a camera and a more advanced digital assistant, that can double as a Nest Security System.

 “We are moving from a company that helps you find answers to a company that helps you get things done” Sundar Pichai, Engineer and CEO of Google.

The device will be known as Google Nest Hub and Google Nest Hub Max. The search giants smart screens, which resembles tablets mounted on smart speakers has a feature called Face Match, which learns to recognize your face during the setup process and saves that information on the device itself. The camera uses face detection to determine when a person is walking by and can turn the Max’s screen into a video chatting device, using Google’s Duo App, it zooms in panning the movements of the person who’s talking.

An effort was made to give users a sense of control, with a single switch on the back of the Max’s screen that turns off the microphone and camera. On the front of the device a green light will provide an indication of the gadget being on. The device also allows users to automatically delete their data after 3 or 18 months.

Cookie Privacy

Google also announced that there will be a wave of new privacy measures which includes easy controls to block tracking cookies on Chrome. Cookies are stored on a user’s computer designed to hold data specific to a company or websites allowing companies to keep you logged in or see which websites you’ve visited. It also allows advertisers to track your movements from site to site.

The search giant will allow users to restrict cookie tracking more easily, while preserving their logins and preferences, blocking third-party cookies, from domains you haven’t directly visited, which is an option chrome already had, but it will now be made more prominent.

These Privacy measures will however only be effective if users opt to use them and research has shown that a vast majority of people do not update their browser settings. “By not changing the default, by making it optional, Google is relying on people not changing it,” said Brendan Eich, co-founder and CEO of Brave, a privacy-oriented web browser. “Chrome users may never know this is an option.”

More significantly the search engine leaders are making it harder for companies to use fingerprints. These are a cookie workaround that uses your browser information to figure out where else you’ve been. Developers will now be required to state whether cookies can work across sites, which could be used for more stringent control.

It seems as a mass rejection of cookies would be detrimental to Googles Ad business and not to mentions its partners. There is however light at the end of the tunnel as the leaders in advertising, Google doesn’t need cookies to track users around the web with services to track you on apps ad outside sites like Google Tools, AdSence, Analytics and even YouTube. Disallowing cookies, but keeping Chrome tracking will have Google in a snug position, don’t you think?

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