At Google, safety is core to everything we do. We design our products to ensure that they are secure by default and private by design, and you’re in control of your information. We are privileged that hundreds of millions of Indians place their trust in Google products.
In India, we have been working towards making the internet helpful for over a billion people through a deeper understanding of our users’ needs under our Next Billion Users initiative, and launching many India-first features and products. After the outbreak of COVID-19, the internet's role in our everyday lives has become all the more central. With more and more Indians turning to the internet for their day-to-day needs, we recognise our responsibility to ensure that they’re protected from an evolving range of online risks — from phishing to financial fraud to misinformation. We also know that new users in particular are vulnerable to threats from bad actors.
Today, we are underlining our commitment to protect users against this multidimensional challenge — and make the internet safer for everyone.
Ramping up our trust & safety efforts in India
To protect our users and products at the scale at which we operate, everyday 24x7, we continuously invest in both people and technology to make the internet safer. With over 20,000 people spread across the world, our Trust and Safety teams are dedicated to identifying, fighting, and preventing online harms. This includes everything from researching emerging abuse trends, to developing policies and standards that make clear what is acceptable on our platforms, to building the technology that enables enforcement of those policies at scale, including compliance with local laws and regulations in every country we operate in. Just in the last year, we’ve invested over $1 billion on our content moderation systems and processes, and we continue to invest in this area.
In India, we have significantly increased the resources dedicated to these teams, adding product policy analysts, security specialists, and user trust experts, and expanded our efforts to provide coverage in more than 10 vernacular Indian languages, enabling our central teams to benefit from the local nuance and inputs. This increased focus will help us to tackle misinformation, fraud, threats to child safety, violent extremism, phishing attacks, and malware, among other abuse areas.
A collaborative approach for a safer internet
We recognise that the work of building a safer internet needs the leadership of the larger internet industry that is driving India’s digital economy. These challenges cannot be overcome by one or two players alone, and there is a need to step up our collective efforts as an industry. We are committed to sharing our tools and the institutional knowledge and capabilities we’ve developed over the years to contribute to this joint responsibility. We will be working with leading industry organisations to help train developers and startups in these capabilities, build communal solutions to shared safety challenges, and innovate on open-source tools so we can better protect Indians online.
Investing in user awareness and education in Indian languages
We also know that safety information helps people understand and avoid online harm. The Google Safety Centre serves as a single destination dedicated to educating and empowering our users on the importance of digital safety. As many people in India use the internet in their regional language, we are launching the new and updated Google Safety Centre in eight languages starting with Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, and Telugu, with three more Indian languages set to roll out by the end of the year.
On this platform, users can discover helpful resources and easy tips, and identify the digital habits that are right for them and their families, all in the language of their choice. With the ‘My Activity’ hub in the Safety Centre, they can review, control, or delete the activity saved to their Google accounts. This section received more than 1 billion visits by Indian users in the first half of 2021 alone, and we hope this refreshed Safety Center will help millions more.
As part of this effort, we’ve also launched a user education campaign in multiple languages, to bring attention to common threats like phishing, malware, and fraud.
Raising our commitment to ensure children’s safety online
While our policies don’t allow kids under 13 to create a standard Google account, we’ve worked hard to design enriching product experiences for them — as well as for older teens and their families. We are aware that kids and teens are spending more time online, and parents, educators, child safety and privacy experts, and policy makers are rightfully concerned about how to keep them safe. We share these concerns and we have announced a series of new policies in response.
We are also committed to matching these efforts with digital safety resources for parents and children. So starting today, we are excited to launch our global Be Internet Awesome program in India, a resource that is designed and crafted by digital safety experts to help children, families, and educators learn about staying safe online. Available in English and Hindi first, then soon in other Indian languages, Be Internet Awesome is a great resource for kids, parents, and teachers to learn about safe and healthy internet habits.
It includes a highly visual, interactive experience called ‘Interland’, where children can learn the fundamentals of online safety and participate in a series of fun, challenging games. They’ll learn how to safeguard valuable information, one-up cyber bullies, and spot what’s real and what’s fake. We’re also keen for children to explore Be Internet Awesome through avenues they’re already familiar with, and so we are delighted to announce our partnership with popular Indian comic book publishers, Amar Chitra Katha, who will help kids discover these critical internet safety lessons through their favourite characters, in eight Indian languages.
A safer and trusted app experience for our users
Affordable smartphones can unlock online opportunities for millions more Indians. But these devices have to be underpinned by a bedrock of privacy, security, and transparency. We have stepped up our efforts to deliver a privacy-first experience with Android 12 with a new privacy dashboard that gives people a clear timeline view of apps that have accessed their location, microphone, and camera in the last 24 hours — so they can better understand and control what data apps use.
At the same time, we’re taking steps to identify and respond to concerns around specific app categories more quickly. For example, we recently announced clarifications around the policies on personal loan apps, including new requirements that will help safeguard users, while enabling legitimate developers to operate and flourish. And we have significantly expanded our Google Play support teams in India, enabling us to gain a deeper understanding of the needs of our partners and users — including around online safety. The bottom line is this: when we solve for our users, we also solve for our developers.
We have no doubt that what we do in India will also shape the future of a Safer Internet for everyone.
Building a safer internet for everyone is not one more thing to do, it is the one thing to do — together.
Posted by Sanjay Gupta, Country Manager & Vice President, Google India, and Kristie Canegallo, Vice President, Trust & Safety, Google