Technology

Google backs net safety campaign

Google and CAB poster
Image caption The safety awareness campaign covers issues such as choosing a password.

Google has said that its future success depends on users continuing to feel safe on the internet.

The search firm is launching a campaign to increase awareness of online threats, in partnership with the Citizens Advice Bureau.

It covers topics such as choosing a password, scam emails and using two factor authentication.

The company said future campaigns may deal more extensively with how Google uses people's personal data.

An information booklet touches on the way search information is used to sell advertising, but the higher profile poster campaign focuses on broader industry problems.

"We thought that the first thing we have to do is earn the right to be informative," said Anthony House, policy and communications manager at Google.

"The long term success of our business is totally tied up in people feeling comfortable spending more time online, so this is a really important campaign for us."

Mr House admitted that Google had itself given users cause for concern, including the StreetView debacle where the company's photo cars intercepted information being sent over WiFi.

"StreetView was a complicated product for us to launch and we thought very deeply about what privacy protections should be put in place," he told BBC News.

"That doesn't mean that we always get everything right, but we've learned a lot from mistakes that we have made in the past and this campaign is one of the many manifestations of those lessons."

The "Good to Know" campaign covers five subject areas:

  • Choosing a strong password
  • Recognising phishing emails
  • Understanding secure websites
  • Signing out of online accounts
  • using two factor authentication for services such as email

A series of cartoons is being used in an attempt to simplify the sometimes complicated issues.

Such problems do not account for a significant proportion of complaints from the public, according to Gillian Guy, chief executive of the Citizens Advice Bureau.

However, she added, that did not mean they were not affecting people.

"The thing that concerns us is that many people don't report these things or pursue them because redress online is much more difficult than face-to-face or in other situations.

"That's why, if we raise awareness and get people simple tips, it will probably increase the number of people who ask for assistance."

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