Google is using I/O 2022 to unveil (and flaunt) a host of privacy and security upgrades, including some significant features for online shopping. The company is introducing virtual payment cards on Android and Chrome that promise extra security by replacing the real card number with a digital counterpart. It should be faster, too, as you won’t have to enter the CVV or other details that frequently slow you down.
Virtual cards will be available in the US this summer for American Express, Visa and Capital One holders. Mastercard is due later in the year. This isn’t as ambitious a financial project as Google’s defunct Plex banking service, but it may be useful if you’re worried a hacker might scrape your payment details while you’re checking out.
Other additions are subtler, but potentially useful. Google now protects Workspace users against phishing and malware in Docs, Sheets and Slides, not just Gmail. You should also see the safety status in apps to let you know when your Google account is at risk.
Google is also making it easier to control data. On top of plans to let you remove contact details from search results (still in a months-long rollout), you’ll also have the option to see more or less of certain brands and categories in ads through My Ad Center. You won’t just be limited to blocking or reporting content.
The expansions come alongside ongoing efforts. Google is automatically enrolling users in two-factor authentication to reduce account hijacking. It’s also scaling back the volume of sensitive personal info, anonymizing that content and curbing access through technologies like end-to-end encryption and the secure enclaves on modern phones. Yes, Google is partly touting these features to counter long-running accusations of less-than-stellar privacy, but they might be welcome if you’re jittery about trusting the company with your data.
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