Good to Know aims to offer advice and information on online security and privacy concerns
Search engine company Google and privacy group Citizens Advice have launched a website, ‘Good to Know ‘, to offer advice on online security and privacy issues.
The website has been designed to help users of all levels. It provides help on several security and privacy issues including password strength and information about cookies.
This year, there have been a number of legal suits and complaints against the use of user information by social networking sites, Web browsers and smartphones. While Web browser Mozilla introduced a ‘do not track’ feature, Google, Apple and Microsoft, all have been embroiled in privacy issues over location tracking. Google had to face numerous probe in several countries over its controversial StreetView service. Facebook has also been subject to scrutiny after it was revealed that the social networking site dropped cookies on the user’s computer which then tracked online behaviour even after the user had logged out of the site.
According to the Guardian, recent research by Ofcom’s consumers communications panel showed that 26% of UK Internet users had concerns about the safety of their personal details, 14% were worried about privacy and 13% about fraud. Recently, Prime Minister David Cameron launched a website for parents which allows them to place complaints about objectionable content.
Good to Know is aimed at educating users about protecting their personal information in the Web world.
Speaking about the new website, Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said, "Citizens Advice is all about straightforward, simple advice on the issues that matter, so helping people take control of their safety and privacy online is right up our street."
She said that the website aims to make it easy for people to report privacy breaches.
Guy said, "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."
She added, "We are delighted to be working in partnership with Google."
Citizens Advice and Google are launching a campaign to increase awareness of online threats.
Google policy and communications manager Anthony House said, "We thought that the first thing we have to do is earn the right to be informative."
"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."
House told the BBC that the company has learnt from its StreetView debacle
"StreetView was a complicated product for us to launch and we thought very deeply about what privacy protections should be put in place," he said.
"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."
Among the suggestions in the Good to Know section of Google is the one about email forwarding.
A suggestion by Google reads, "Check the forwarding and delegation settings in your account. Make sure that your emails are being directed properly. Check the ‘Mail settings’ tab in Gmail for forwarding and delegation settings that grant others access to your account."
Last week the FBI arrested a hacker in Florida, after authorities found out that the man had hacked into the email accounts – including Gmail and Yahoo – of over 50 celebrities and directed all emails to his own by making changes in the email forwarding feature. It is alleged that the hacker distributed nude photographs of actress Scarlett Johansson, which she had stored in her email account.