The companies said the challenge presented by security online had become particularly clear in the wake of events including the recent celebrity photo leak and the revelations of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower.
While consumer-facing security tools exist and are technically effective, they often have low adoption rates because they’re inconvenient or too confusing for the average person to operate.
Even well-known features like two-factor authentication, offered by many online services, are not widely used, the companies said in a statement.
“No matter how effective security technologies are, people will not use them unless they become more accessible and easier to understand. We need simpler options for stronger security, available at our fingertips,” they said.
The organization, will be led by former Google project manager Sara Sinclair Brody. It will be working with the Open Technology Fund, University College London, and World Wide Web Consortium to find more consumer-friendly ways to improve security.
The move comes at a sensitive moment for Google which is at the center of an anti-trust investigation by the European Commission. The launch also comes after the European Union passed new rules giving people the “right to be forgotten” online – compelling tech companies to remove search results in Europe for queries that include their names if the results are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive.”
Data protection authorities from across the EU member states met in Brussels on 17-18 September to discuss their response to the May ruling.