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Google offers an unusually clear view of how it manages user data ahead of GDPR

With the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation set to go into effect on May 25th, services across the board are updating their terms of service to comply with the new privacy rules — and today, Google joined the crowd. In a post, the company laid out a new privacy policy, detailing exactly how and why Google collects the data that powers its various products.

While there are no significant changes in services or permissions, Google’s new language is notably less dense than its current policy, and intended to comply with the GDPR’s requirement for “clear and transparent notice” of how data will be used. The terms have also been augmented with explanatory videos and illustrations, because, as Google admits, “a visual description can be easier to understand than text alone.” The result is an unusually clear view of how Google manages user data.

“We collect information to provide better service to all our users,” one section reads. “When you’re not signed into a Google Account, we store the information we collect with unique identifiers tied to the browser, application, or device you’re using. This helps us to do things like maintain your language preferences across browsing settings.”

Google is also updating the options for exporting data. Google has offered data exports through Google Takeout since 2011, but the company is now expanding that service to include more services and finer grained controls. The company is also backing the Data Transfer Project, an open-source system that would make it easier to move data between networks seamlessly.

Along with the blog post, Google is sending out email notifications to every single Google account, which number in the billions. The emails will be rolling out for days to come, given the scale of the notification.

Correction: Google is updating its Privacy Policy today. An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to a new Terms of Service.


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