Google CEO Sundar Pichai has announced that the company is set to double the number of its privacy engineers and is opening a privacy engineering hub in Munich. Pichai announced the official opening of the Google Safety Engineering Center, which houses Google’s efforts to increase the privacy of the company’s users. Writing in a blog post, Pichai said:
This week, we’re officially opening the Google Safety Engineering Center (GSEC) in Munich, Germany. We’re growing our operations and doubling the number of privacy engineers in Munich to more than 200 by the end of 2019, making Germany a global hub for Google’s cross-product privacy engineering efforts. 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.
Pichai also noted that it’s “no accident” that Google was opening their privacy hub in the heart of Europe, Germany, saying it was a country “that in many ways reflects how Europeans think about online safety, privacy, and security.”
It’s also no accident Google is doing this now. Privacy has become the number-one issue in tech in recent years thanks to a swatch of data scandals, some perpetrated by Google itself. Europe is also an obvious choice for Google to house its new privacy operations because it has some of the strictest user privacy regulations in the world.
A year ago Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force. The groundbreaking regulations gave users more control over their data and enforced strict privacy laws on companies like Google. Breaking those regulations could see a company like Google fined as much as 4% of their annual global turnover. With the opening of the Google Safety Engineering Center in Germany, Google is showing that it’s willing, if not eager, to play by the rules–something it hopes the EU keeps in mind in the future should there be any major data violations by the company.