A new European centre to tackle data privacy will be opened by Google in Germany.
The Safety Engineering Centre based in Munich is the latest effort by the tech giant to deal with digital safety issues.
A team of engineers will oversee the development of privacy features across all the company’s products. The tech giant has also said it will launch the Google.org Impact Challenge on Safety initiative to fund organizations working on digital safety issues.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained that the company will double the number of privacy engineers in Munich, where it has already had a team working on such issues.
He said: “The team will work hand in hand with privacy specialists in Google offices across Europe and globally, and the products built there will be used around the world.”
The announcement comes just in time for the first anniversary of the implementation of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Since going into effect last May, GDPR continues to be a hotly debated regulatory move, praised by some as a tough consumer protection standard and condemned by others as an impediment to innovation.
What’s clear is that companies are having to invest more in compliance, and, at the same time, privacy has become a much larger topic around the world.
Mr Pichai said: “Keeping people safe online, and their information private and secure, is a big part of how we do this. We believe that privacy and safety must be equally available to everyone in the world, and we bring that to life with products that empower everyone with clear and meaningful choices around their data.”
He said: “It’s no accident that we’re building our privacy hub in the heart of Europe, and in a country that in many ways reflects how Europeans think about online safety, privacy and security.”
He noted that many of the tech giant’s products had been built in Munich, such as Google Account, where users can control their privacy settings in relation to Google products.
“This is a major milestone in our investments in Europe. Since 2007, we’ve grown in Munich to more than 750 people, hailing from more than 60 countries,” Mr Pichai added. “This year’s expansion will take us beyond 1,000 employees for the first time, making the office a true global hub not only for privacy engineering, but for research and product development, as well.”
Google has also announced a 10 million-euro (£8.73million) fund to support universities and other organizations working across Europe on a range of internet safety issues – from keeping young people safe online to addressing hate crimes.