The General Data Protection Regulation goes into effect this week across the internet. Adopted by the European Union in 2016, the regulations aim to codify certain consumer rights pertaining to the internet.
In the regulations, internet users, called “data subjects” in IT parlance, must be given access to personal information tech companies have pulled from them. Data-sharing entities also have no more than 72 hours to notify consumers when a data breach has occurred.
Companies have had two years to comply with the rules, which go into effect on Friday, May 25. Even though it’s being put into place across Europe, because so many U.S. companies have international reach, the mandate affects many of them as well, especially the tech giants of Silicon Valley.
That’s the reason Google, Facebook, Twitter and the like have been sending you alerts and bouncing you to pages about privacy settings.
The European Union has paid particular attention to what Google knows about the citizens of its member states. “Google has a big bull’s eye target on its back in Europe,” money expert Clark Howard says.
Here’s how to control your privacy on Google
To find out what kind of information Google has been collecting on you, here’s where to look.
Log into your Google account. Go to the upper right-hand corner, where it has your profile pic or the first letter of your Google sign-in, you click on it and there’s a link that says “Privacy.”
That’s where you can see what Google is collecting on you and it gives you the option to change the privacy setting.
On this page you’ll be able to manage which apps have your information as well as your Google activity, ad settings, content and more.
An interesting control is the “My Activity” feature, which allows you to see the data that’s created when you use Google services. If you click it and follow the prompts, it will tell you that, “You can easily delete specific items or entire topics.”
You can also change your settings and decide what data gets associated with your account.
Click on the Privacy Checkup to see the status of a number of privacy settings such as Web & App activity, Location History, Device Information, Voice & Audio Activity, Youtube Search History and Youtube Watch History. All of these can be toggled on or off. All of this data is key to what kinds of ads Google shows you.
Clark praises Google for the way they’ve written their instructions. “What’s so unusual is it’s so clear,” Clark says. “Everything is written at a level where a middle-schooler can read the policy and understand it.”
The most important thing it does, Clark says, is allow consumers to decide for themselves how much control they want over what these companies share about them.
“You will, depending on the website, have the ability to restrict those practices and if a site tells you ‘We’re doing this that and the other,’ and you don’t want them doing it, you’re then left with the choice: Do I still want to do business with these people, do I still want to use their stuff or do I want to dump them?” Clark says.