Tag Archives: India

Five years, 400+ stations and thousands of locations later; Reimagining our role



Google’s mission today is the same as when we were founded over 20 years ago: to make the internet accessible and useful for everyone. That includes building for the next billion people coming online around the world over the next few years. 


Through our Next Billion Users initiative, we pursue new technical solutions to help these users get more from the internet. These efforts range from building lite apps (YouTube Go, Google Go and more), offline features (such as YouTube and Maps Offline), to country-specific products like Tez (now Google Pay India) and platforms like Android Go to bring lower-cost devices to customers.


Google Station is one such effort. We launched Station in India in 2015, as a partnership between Google, Indian Railways and Railtel to bring fast, free public WiFi to over 400 of the busiest railway stations in India by mid-2020. But we crossed that number by June 2018 and implemented Station in thousands of other locations around the country in partnership with telecommunications companies, ISPs and local authorities. Over time, partners in other countries asked for Station too and we responded accordingly. We’re grateful for these partnerships, especially with the Indian Railways and the Government of India, that helped us serve millions of users over the last few years.


India has been at the heart of our efforts to increase access to the internet, be it through low cost devices, helping people search and use online tools in popularly spoken Indian languages, or making the Assistant available on feature phones. We’re also helping to skill small businesses and women around the country on how to use the internet so they use it to enhance their lives and those of their communities, and customising our products like Search, Maps and YouTube to meet the unique needs of Indians.  


As we look to the next phase of enabling access, it’s clear that since we started five years ago, getting online has become much simpler and cheaper. Mobile data plans have become more affordable and mobile connectivity is improving globally. India, specifically now has among the cheapest mobile data per GB in the world, with mobile data prices having reduced by 95% in the last 5 years, as per TRAI in 2019. Today, Indian users consume close to 10 GB of data, each month, on average*. And similar to what the Indian government did, several governments and local entities have kicked off their own initiatives to provide easier, cost-effective access to the internet for everyone. 


In addition to this changed context, the challenge of varying technical requirements and infrastructure among our partners across countries has also made it difficult for Station to scale and be sustainable, especially for our partners. And when we evaluate where we can truly make an impact in the future, we see greater need and bigger opportunities in building products and features tailored to work better for the next billion user markets. 


Therefore, we've made the decision to gradually wind down the Station program globally, through 2020. We are working with our partners to transition existing sites so they can remain useful resources for the community. 


Our commitment to supporting the next billion users remains stronger than ever, from continuing our efforts to make the internet work for more people; building more relevant and helpful apps and services; providing digital skills training for users and businesses and creating platforms that are helpful and empower developers and internet users around the world. 


*Ericsson Mobility Report 2019



Posted by Caesar Sengupta, VP - Payments and Next Billion Users, Google

Applying AI to big problems––six research projects we’re supporting in public health, education, disaster prevention, and conservation

Whether it’s forecasting floods or detecting diabetic eye disease -- we’re increasingly seeing people apply AI to address big challenges. In fact, we believe that some of the biggest issues of our time can be tackled with AI. This is why we’ve made research in AI for Social Good one of the key focus areas of Google Research India, the AI lab we started in Bangalore last September. 


As we’re planning to explore applied research in a variety of fields, from healthcare to education, partnering closely with experts in these areas is crucial. Today, we’re kicking off support for six research projects led by organizations from India and across Asia, focusing on addressing social, humanitarian and environmental challenges with AI. Each project is a collaboration between leading academic AI researchers and a nonprofit organization with expertise in the respective area, with support from Google researchers, engineers and program managers. 


In addition to supporting these efforts with expertise in areas such as computer vision, natural language processing, and other deep learning techniques, we are also providing each team with funding and computational resources. 


  • Improving health information for high HIV/AIDS risk communities: Applying AI to identify influencers among marginalized communities at high risk of HIV/AIDS contraction, with the goal of better disseminating health information, providing services, and ultimately reducing the rate of HIV contraction. 
    • Predicting risks for expectant mothers: Using AI to predict the risk of expectant mothers dropping out of healthcare programs, to improve targeted interventions and increase positive healthcare outcomes for mothers and their babies.  
      • Improving consistency of healthcare information input: Applying AI to help ensure consistency in how healthcare information is captured and monitored, to enable more targeted and actionable healthcare interventions.
      • Predicting human-wildlife conflict: Using AI to predict human-wildlife conflict in the state of Maharashtra to help inform data-driven policy making. 
        • Improving dam and barrage water release: Using AI to inform dam and barrage water releases, to help build early warning systems that minimize risk of disasters. 
        • Supporting publishing of underserved Indian language content: Building open-source input tools for underserved Indian languages to accelerate publishing of openly licensed content. 


          Starting on this research journey today, we look forward to supporting academic researchers, organizations and the broader community over the coming months and years to bring these projects to life. Healthcare, conservation, education, and disaster prediction are some of the most difficult challenges of our time. As computer scientists, it’s incredibly humbling and exciting to partner with the community towards making a positive impact for people in India and around the world. 

          Posted by Manish Gupta, Director, Google Research Team in India and Milind Tambe, Director AI for Social Good, Google Research Team in India

          #PehleSafety: Doubling down on our commitment to keeping our users safe online

          At Google, we take very seriously the responsibility to build trust in the internet and make it an environment that’s safe for everyone. We know people are using Google at different stages of their internet journey -- from people experiencing the Internet for the first time on their new smartphone, to long-time Internet-savvy users -- and they look to us to have their backs every step of the way.


          All Google products are built on a strong foundation of security that automatically protects you and your data from a wide range of threats; from our custom-built infrastructure that protects our data centers and servers, to layers of advanced encryption that protect user data across Chrome and Gmail. We are constantly on the lookout for risks and we automatically block a wide range of security threats from ever impacting you. 


          For example, our automatic Gmail spam and phishing filters block 99.9 percent of suspicious or dangerous emails before they reach you. We also  block billions of bad ads (those that violate policies on our own and partners’ sites.) We block an average of 100 bad ads per second, so you’re better protected as you browse the internet.


          Vested in our users’ online safety 


          We believe that education is a crucial aspect of online security. Over the course of the last year we launched a far-reaching campaign to inform our users about online security, and the steps they can take to keep their internet experience safe. We worked with top YouTube influencers to spread the word on online safety, and launched powerful, step-by-step tools like the Security Checkup and Password Checkup that help you strengthen your Google Account security and address issues in minutes. Hundreds of millions of users visit the Security Checkup each year.


          Our products are designed to surface the most authoritative sources of content, but in some cases people with malicious intent are able to seed content on the Internet that is designed to mislead people. We use cutting-edge AI in our automated systems that help detect and remove such content at scale.


          Recommitting ourselves to online security with #PehleSafety


          Building on this momentum, we are happy to announce our #PehleSafety campaign that kicks off today. We are launching a comprehensive public outreach and communications campaign that will both educate people about best practices for staying safe online, as well as walk them through specific actions they can take to lock down and protect their online presence.


          We continue to work with government bodies to help spread the message of online safety more extensively. We have also launched an extensive internet security campaign along with the Data Security Council of India (DSCI), aimed at reaching out to millions of end users and educating them about best practices for staying safe online.


          The safety of our users remains our highest priority, and we are committed to working toward protecting our users, products, and everything that is so valuable about the internet.

          Posted by Saikat Mitra, Director - Trust & Safety

          Charting the next 15 years of Google Maps



          It’s easy to take for granted how much information about the world is now available at our fingertips. But it wasn’t long ago that traveling to a new place meant fumbling through sheets of turn-by-turn instructions while trying to keep one hand on the steering wheel, with no way to anticipate how bad traffic would be or find a restaurant along the way. It was around that time, 15 years ago, that Google Maps set out on an audacious goal to map the world. 


          I remember seeing early versions of Google Maps and being amazed at how easily you could scroll, zoom and search the world. One of my earliest memories of working on Google Maps was as a member of our user experience team, which designs and improves the usability of our products. In a world before smartphones, one of the biggest questions that we agonized over was where to put the Print button on the page so that people could easily take their directions on the go. 


          Needless to say, a lot has changed. Google Maps has mapped more than 220 countries, surfaced information for about 200 million places and businesses, and helped billions of people get from point A to point B with confidence. In the beginning, we focused on answering the question: “How do I get from here to there?” Over time, our mission has expanded from helping you navigate to also helping you discover the best places to go and things to do once you’re there. As we celebrate our birthday this week, we’re reflecting on how the definition of what a map can do has broadened, and how machine learning will propel us forward from here. 


          Navigating the world: From simple directions to Live View 


          Fifteen years ago, printing out directions was considered state-of-the-art. So the idea of getting turn-by-turn driving navigation from your phone while on the road seemed revolutionary. In 2009, Google Maps pioneered turn-by-turn mobile navigation, and we’ve since added directions and navigation for walking, transit, bicycles, two-wheelers, and more--all with the goal of helping you with every trip across every mode of transportation. Since people increasingly use a mix of transportation options in a single trip--like walking to the train station and then taking a rideshare to their final stop--one of our next challenges involves stitching together these navigation options and ETAs for a more seamless experience.


          Directions alone aren’t enough. We’re also helping you get there faster and more comfortably by arming you with relevant real-time information like live traffic alerts, predictions for how crowded your bus will be and which bike-sharing locations have available bikes. And we’ve used technology like augmented reality (AR) to help bring the map to life in helpful ways. Last year we introduced Live View, which uses AR, AI and your smartphone camera to show you your surroundings with the directions overlaid. It solves the real pain point of walking halfway down the block toward a place only to realize you’re going the wrong way (I’ve definitely been there!).


          Exploring the world once you get there


          We’ve always fundamentally believed that a map is much more than masses of land and sea, that a city is more than a web of streets. After all, the things that make my hometown shine are the brunch spot with my favorite veggie scramble, the pet salon that keeps my dog happy while he gets a trim, and the pizza spot with the foosball table that keeps my kids entertained while we wait. A truly helpful map reflects all of those local insights and helps you find places and experiences that are right for you—so that’s been a big focus for us over the last few years. 


          Until recently, if you were looking to grab a slice of pizza, you’d get a list of 20 nearby pizza joints. (And way before that, you’d have to search in advance on a desktop to get the list, or if you were already out of the house you had to roam streets seeking the smell of melted cheese!) Now, we can help you find all of the pizza spots nearby, when they're open, how crowded they’ll be, and which one has the best toppings. Once you’ve decided where to go, you can easily make a reservation or call the restaurant. 


          Doing this well at scale requires a deep understanding of businesses and places—which is where our active community of users comes in. Every day, people contribute more than 20 million pieces of content to Google, like photos, reviews and ratings. These contributions continually make our map richer and more helpful for everyone. They also power features like popular dishes at restaurants, up-to-date road closures and wheelchair accessible routes. We’re also making it easy for you to get things done at these places within Google Maps—so you can go from finding a yoga studio to booking a class. 


          The technology propelling the future of Maps


          The world is always changing—new roads are added, bus routes are changed and natural disasters alter accessible routes. That’s why a map needs to be updated, comprehensive and accurate. Major breakthroughs in AI have transformed our approach to mapmaking, helping us bring high-quality maps and local information to more parts of the world faster. 


          For instance, we worked with our data operations team to manually trace common building outlines, then trained our machine learning models to recognize building edges and shapes. Thanks to this technique, we’ve mapped as many buildings in the last year as we did in the previous 10. Elsewhere, machine learning helps us recognize handwritten building numbers that would be hard even for a passerby in a car to see. This is especially important when mapping areas where formal street signs and house numbers are uncommon. In Lagos, Nigeria alone, machine learning has helped us add 20,000 street names, 50,000 addresses, and 100,000 new businesses—lighting up the map with local places and businesses where there once was little detailed information. 


          The map of the next 15 years 


          As we celebrate our birthday and look ahead to the next 15 years, we’re rolling out a few new updates, including a refreshed look for the app and more information about your transit rides. And we’ve updated our Google Maps icon to reflect our journey.


          When we set out to map the world, we knew it would be a challenge. But 15 years in, I’m still in awe of what a gargantuan task it is. It requires building and curating an understanding of everything there is to know about the physical world, and then bringing that information to people in a way that helps you navigate, explore and get things done in your world. The real world is infinitely detailed and always changing, so our work of reflecting it back to you is never done. 

          Posted by Jen Fitzpatrick, Senior Vice President, Google Maps

          Google Maps is turning 15! Celebrate with a new look and features



          In 2005, we set out to map the world. Since then we’ve pushed the limits of what a map can do: from helping you easily navigate from point A to B, to helping you explore and get things done in the world. With more than 1 billion people turning to Google Maps to see and explore the world, we're celebrating our 15th birthday with a new look and product updates based on feedback from you.


          A fresh look from the inside out
          Starting today, you'll see an updated Google Maps app for Android and iOS that gives you everything you need at your fingertips with five easy-to-access tabs: Explore, Commute, Saved, Contribute and Updates.
          • Explore: Looking for a place nearby to grab lunch, enjoy live music or play arcade games? In the Explore tab, you’ll find information, ratings, reviews and more for about 200 million places around the world, including local restaurants, nearby attractions and city landmarks. 
          • Commute: Whether you’re traveling by car or public transit, the Commute tab is there to make sure you’re on the most efficient route. Set up your daily commute to get real-time traffic updates, travel times and suggestions for alternative routes.
          • Saved: People have saved more than 6.5 billion places on Google Maps—from the new bakery across town to the famous restaurant on your upcoming vacation. Now you can view all of these spots in one convenient place, as well as find and organize plans for an upcoming trip and share recommendations based on places you've been.
          • Contribute: Hundreds of millions of people each year contribute information that helps keep Google Maps up to date. With the new Contribute tab, you can easily share local knowledge, such as details about roads and addresses, missing places, business reviews and photos. Each contribution goes a long way in helping others learn about new places and decide what to do.
          • Updates: The new Updates tab provides you with a feed of trending, must-see spots from local experts and publishers, like The Infatuation. In addition to discovering, saving and sharing recommendations with your network, you can also directly chat with businesses to get questions answered.


          Our five tabs provide easier access to everything you need in Google Maps.


          We’re also updating our look with a new Google Maps icon that reflects the evolution we’ve made mapping the world. It’s based on a key part of Google Maps since the very beginning—the pin— and represents the shift we’ve made from getting you to your destination to also helping you discover new places and experiences.


          And because we can’t resist a good birthday celebration, keep an eye out for our celebratory party-themed car icon, available for a limited time when you navigate with Google Maps.

          Look out for our new icon on your phone and browser.


          Made for you, on the go
          We’re constantly evolving to help you get around—no matter how you choose to travel. Our new transit features in the Google Maps app help you stay informed when you’re taking public transportation.


          Last year, we introduced crowdedness predictions to help you see how crowded your bus, train or subway is likely to be based on past rides. To help you plan your travels, we’re adding new insights about your route from past riders, so you’ll be able to see important details, such as: 
          • Temperature: For a more comfortable ride, check in advance if the temperature is considered by past riders as on the colder or warmer side.
          • Accessibility: If you have special needs or require additional support, you can identify public transit lines with staffed assistance, accessible entrance and seating, accessible stop-button or hi-visible LED.
          • Women’s Section: In regions where transit systems have designated women's sections or carriages, we'll help surface this information along with whether other passengers abide by it.
          • Security Onboard: Feel safer knowing if security monitoring is on board—whether that’s with a security guard present, installed security cameras or an available helpline.
          • Number of carriages available: In Japan only, you can pick a route based on the number of carriages so that it increases your chances of getting a seat.


            These useful bits of information come from past riders who've shared their experiences and will appear alongside public transit routes when available. To help future riders, you can answer a short survey within Google Maps about your experience on recent trips. We’ll start rolling this out globally in March, with availability varying by region and municipal transportation agency.

            New trip attributes help you make informed decisions about your travel plans.


            A sense of direction
            Last year, we introduced Live View to help you quickly decide which way to go when you start a walking route with Google Maps. By combining Street View’s real-world imagery, machine learning and smartphone sensors, Live View in Google Maps shows you your surroundings with the directions overlaid in augmented reality. 


            Over the coming months, we’ll be expanding Live View and testing new capabilities, starting with better assistance whenever you’re searching for a place. You’ll be able to quickly see how far away and in which direction a place is.


            Live View will soon help you get oriented in the right direction in new ways.


            A big thank you to everyone for placing your trust in us and for being with us on this wild ride over the last 15 years. See you out there on the journey!

            Posted by Dane Glasgow, Vice President of Product, Google Maps

            Find and select prepaid mobile recharge packs with a simple search

            https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/PXjDE48AutW2nS6ApF49A2rWHz7PgJJfD7V8cT_3-qHYGfCDcWPVpt4EZ6omsK4DjwI4AgQ5vIwcHEaphZCoSnukV3nq5v_VA6jsZBhA4LxnUxA0U3vT43ID65Iurygzs3b2-XJ0
            In India there are approximately 1.1 billion cellular connections, about 95 percent of which are prepaid SIM cards. Prepaid cellular subscribers use a variety of ways to recharge their mobile phone, or even get help from a friend or a family member. Today, we make it easier for people in India to recharge prepaid SIMs with a new Google Search experience. 


            Now, when you search for information on cellular recharging with queries like "prepaid mobile recharge", you'll be able to browse plans across several mobile carriers, compare discounts and offers, and recharge a prepaid phone plan using your favourite method.




            On the search results page, you just fill in your details into a brief form to surface a list of the available prepaid plans from the relevant carrier. Simply select a plan to view the various recharge offers from mobile payment service providers such as Mobikwik, Paytm, FreeCharge and Google Pay. You can then use the mobile wallet or payment service of your choice to complete the plan purchase through the provider’s website or app. The recharge confirmation page will also show you relevant customer support information.


            This search experience is now available for signed-in users on Android, and collates prepaid service plans from Airtel, Vodafone-Idea, Jio and BSNL prepaid for users across India.


            In our commitment to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, this is a step to help India’s many prepaid cellular users find their favourite recharge pack quickly and conveniently. As with all our platforms, we are committed to helping grow the ecosystem -- any mobile payment provider interested in integrating their service into this experience can simply add a markup to their service, following the tips on this site.


            Posted by Bharath Bakaraju, Product Manager, Search

            Find and select prepaid mobile recharge packs with a simple search

            https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/PXjDE48AutW2nS6ApF49A2rWHz7PgJJfD7V8cT_3-qHYGfCDcWPVpt4EZ6omsK4DjwI4AgQ5vIwcHEaphZCoSnukV3nq5v_VA6jsZBhA4LxnUxA0U3vT43ID65Iurygzs3b2-XJ0
            In India there are approximately 1.1 billion cellular connections, about 95 percent of which are prepaid SIM cards. Prepaid cellular subscribers use a variety of ways to recharge their mobile phone, or even get help from a friend or a family member. Today, we make it easier for people in India to recharge prepaid SIMs with a new Google Search experience. 


            Now, when you search for information on cellular recharging with queries like "prepaid mobile recharge", you'll be able to browse plans across several mobile carriers, compare discounts and offers, and recharge a prepaid phone plan using your favourite method.




            On the search results page, you just fill in your details into a brief form to surface a list of the available prepaid plans from the relevant carrier. Simply select a plan to view the various recharge offers from mobile payment service providers such as Mobikwik, Paytm, FreeCharge and Google Pay. You can then use the mobile wallet or payment service of your choice to complete the plan purchase through the provider’s website or app. The recharge confirmation page will also show you relevant customer support information.


            This search experience is now available for signed-in users on Android, and collates prepaid service plans from Airtel, Vodafone-Idea, Jio and BSNL prepaid for users across India.


            In our commitment to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, this is a step to help India’s many prepaid cellular users find their favourite recharge pack quickly and conveniently. As with all our platforms, we are committed to helping grow the ecosystem -- any mobile payment provider interested in integrating their service into this experience can simply add a markup to their service, following the tips on this site.


            Posted by Bharath Bakaraju, Product Manager, Search

            The Indian journalists fighting fake news

            https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/etMWDHfmnHORzSy5ESsPcZbCblpCJjW0RSC-PpQ6Rx3iHCGHpLtWOE3GuY4Pw5ibRyal4vzGOqcwvvFklTanRa2P_hYwgs4DcMqWeaxcI6GREKTKNbQgpfvCCj8njKbbm7yT3qVh


            Indian journalist Bharat Nayak knows misinformation can have dangerous consequences. He’s witnessed it too often in his home state of Jharkhand, India. 


            According to Bharat, “Indian society has been gravely affected by ‘fake news’, which has  contributed to a rise in hatred and violence, and horrific incidences of lynching.” Concern about misinformation was especially pronounced around last year’s Indian general election—where more than 600 million people voted in the biggest democratic exercise in history.  


            The spread of misinformation is something the Google News Initiative (GNI) India Training Network—a group of 240 senior Indian reporters and journalism educators—has been working to counteract, in their newsrooms and beyond. 


            In partnership with DataLeads and Internews, the Network has provided in-depth verification training for more than 15,000 journalists and students from more than 875 news organizations, in 10 Indian languages. Using a “train-the-trainer” approach, it’s also helped support nearly all of the fact-checking initiatives launched by  Indian media over the past year. 


            But Network trainers wanted to do more than train their fellow journalists - they wanted to spread the message to their communities. Bharat traveled home to Jharkhand and held workshops, not only with fellow journalists, but with community groups and students—like those in the photo above.


            Today, to build on the network’s progress since 2018, we’re announcing a $1 million Google.org grant that will help Internews launch a new initiative promoting news literacy among the Indian public. The funding support is part of Google.org’s broader, $10 million commitment to media literacy, in collaboration with the Google News Initiative.  


            How will it work? First, Internews will select a team of 250 journalists, fact checkers, academics and NGO workers, who will be trained on a curriculum developed by global and Indian experts, adapted to local needs and available in seven Indian languages. The local leaders will then roll out the training to new internet users in non-metro cities in India, enabling them to better navigate the internet and assess the information they find.  


            “To make journalism effective again, more than the improvements in media, what is needed is media literacy,” Bharat said. “I want to make the citizens aware of how to consume media, see news and how they can play an active role in changing things for the better.”


            Starting today, Internews is putting the call out for journalists, educators, community workers and others to join the new program. We have no doubt there’ll be a strong response to the new program—and we look forward to continuing to support citizens and journalists like Bharat in the fight against misinformation in India. 


            Posted by Irene Jay Liu, Google News Lab Lead, APAC and Aimee Moon, News Partnerships Manager, APAC

            The Indian journalists fighting fake news

            Indian journalist Bharat Nayak knows misinformation can have dangerous consequences. He’s witnessed it too often in his home state of Jharkhand, India. 


            According to Bharat, “Indian society has been gravely affected by ‘fake news’, which has  contributed to a rise in hatred and violence, and horrific incidences of lynching.” Concern about misinformation was especially pronounced around last year’s Indian general election—where more than 600 million people voted in the biggest democratic exercise in history.  


            The spread of misinformation is something the Google News Initiative (GNI) India Training Network—a group of 240 senior Indian reporters and journalism educators—has been working to counteract, in their newsrooms and beyond. 


            In partnership with DataLeads and Internews, the Network has provided in-depth verification training for more than 15,000 journalists and students from more than 875 news organizations, in 10 Indian languages. Using a “train-the-trainer” approach, it’s also helped support nearly all of the fact-checking initiatives launched by  Indian media over the past year. 


            But Network trainers wanted to do more than train their fellow journalists - they wanted to spread the message to their communities. Bharat traveled home to Jharkhand and held workshops, not only with fellow journalists, but with community groups and students—like those in the photo above.


            Today, to build on the network’s progress since 2018, we’re announcing a $1 million Google.org grant that will help Internews launch a new initiative promoting news literacy among the Indian public. The funding support is part of Google.org’s broader, $10 million commitment to media literacy, in collaboration with the Google News Initiative.  


            How will it work? First, Internews will select a team of 250 journalists, fact checkers, academics and NGO workers, who will be trained on a curriculum developed by global and Indian experts, adapted to local needs and available in seven Indian languages. The local leaders will then roll out the training to new internet users in non-metro cities in India, enabling them to better navigate the internet and assess the information they find.  


            “To make journalism effective again, more than the improvements in media, what is needed is media literacy,” Bharat said. “I want to make the citizens aware of how to consume media, see news and how they can play an active role in changing things for the better.”


            Starting today, Internews is putting the call out for journalists, educators, community workers and others to join the new program. We have no doubt there’ll be a strong response to the new program—and we look forward to continuing to support citizens and journalists like Bharat in the fight against misinformation in India.

            Putting you in control: our work in privacy this year

            Every day, hundreds of people at Google work on building the best privacy protections into our products. In 2019, we made a renewed push around privacy tools, controls and engineering talent, an investment that is already making a difference—nearly 20 million people around the globe visit their Google Account daily, accessing security, privacy and ad settings. As a vice president of product for privacy, I look forward to supporting this work more in my new role leading Google's strategy on building world class privacy tools. Here’s a look at what we did in 2019 in this important area: 


            Keeping your data private and secure
            We’re committed to ensuring that our products meet user expectations around data sharing and data security. This year, we used findings from Project Strobe—an internal review of how third parties can request access to your Google account and Android device data—to implement new policies across Gmail, Android, Chrome and Drive to better protect your data and give you improved controls over the third parties to whom you grant access. We built Password Checkup, which automatically checks the security of all of your saved passwords, tells you if they’ve been compromised, and offers personalized help. Password Checkup started as a standalone Chrome extension, but it was so useful—downloaded more than a million times—that we built it into your Google Account’s password manager. We also introduced the Titan M security chip in Pixel 3a and Pixel 4 to help secure the operating system and your most sensitive on-device data. 


            Simpler controls in Google products
            We've built tools to give you control over your data, easily accessible directly in our various products. This year, we expanded incognito mode across our apps, including Google Maps on Android and iOS, and we launched various auto-delete tools. We also put privacy controls at the forefront of Android settings, and rolled out simple voice commands so you can manage your privacy settings while using the Assistant by saying something like “Hey Google, delete everything I said to you last week.” All these tools make it easier for you to control what information is saved in your Google Account, and for how long. 


            Investing in privacy engineering
            Our significant investment in privacy engineering and research helps improve our own products, as well as everyone’s overall experience online. In May, we opened the Google Security Engineering Center, our engineering privacy hub, where teams are building tools to keep users’ data safe. And for years, our research teams have been building privacy-preserving technologies like federated learning and differential privacy. These technologies provide smart, helpful experiences—like showing you how busy a restaurant is in Maps without identifying the individuals that visited it. In 2019, we open sourced the differential privacy library that powers some of our core products and introduced Tensorflow Privacy, Tensorflow Federated and Private Join and Compute to help other organizations implement these kinds of technologies. And in August, Chrome introduced the Privacy Sandbox and committed to restricting secretive user-tracking efforts such as “fingerprinting,” with the goal of safeguarding user privacy while keeping ad-supported content accessible on the web. 


            The year ahead in privacy regulation
            This is the second year of GDPR in Europe and we invested significantly ahead of its implementation to upgrade our systems and policies, to ensure that we and our partners can comply with its requirements. 


            In the U.S., we’ve continued to advocate for strong federal privacy legislation and published a regulatory framework drawn from various privacy frameworks around the world and our own experience. We continue to believe this is the best way to provide safeguards to U.S. users, give businesses clear rules of the road, and avoid a patchwork of conflicting requirements and exemptions. 


            Like many businesses, we’ve been working to comply with the requirements of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), coming into effect on January 1, 2020. The CCPA will require businesses to disclose how they use people’s data, offer opt-outs of data sales, and give individuals rights around accessing and deleting their data. We’re committed to putting its requirements into practice and have invested in our systems to make necessary changes. 


            We’ve offered a range of tools for users to access, manage and delete their data like Download your data and Google Account globally for years, so we’re encouraged to see these practices become more widely adopted and codified into law in California. And while we never sell your personal information to anyone, we do let you control how your information is used, including for personalized ads. As we did with GDPR, we’ve made our CCPA data controls and tools available to all users globally, not just in California. Last month, we also introduced Restricted Data Processing, which will allow advertisers, publishers, and partners to restrict how data is used on our advertising products, and help them as they work to comply with CCPA. Publisher partners can also easily implement this kind of limited processing for their users globally. Of course, we’ll continue to follow developments around CCPA and ensure we’re taking appropriate steps if new regulatory guidance emerges. 


            Rather than just talk about privacy, we’ve spent this year building real tools and protections—they’re already available and used by millions of people. I’m proud of all this, but I also know that our work to build the best privacy protections into the products you use is never done. I look forward to sharing even more with you in the coming months. 

            Posted by Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, Vice President of Product, Privacy