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Google will delete activity data by default, but there’s a catch

Google is attempting to boost its reputation for data privacy by announcing it will auto-delete new users’ activity data by default every 18-months.

However, the key word here is ‘new’ users. Existing users will still have to tell Google they want the company to automatically delete their location history, search, voice and YouTube activity after 3 or 18 months.

Those controls were introduced last year, after criticism of Google’s past practices when it comes to users’ location history. The company’s expanded affords are today explained in a blog post written by the big cheese himself, company CEO Sundar Pichai.

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He writes: “We continue to challenge ourselves to do more with less, and today we’re changing our data retention practices to make auto-delete the default for our core activity settings.

“Here’s how it works: Starting today, the first time you turn on Location History—which is off by default—your auto-delete option will be set to 18 months by default. Web & App Activity auto-delete will also default to 18 months for new accounts. This means your activity data will be automatically and continuously deleted after 18 months, rather than kept until you choose to delete it. You can always turn these settings off or change your auto-delete option.”

Why Google isn’t choosing to do this for all accounts might raise some eyebrows. After all, there are hundreds of millions of people out there who already have Google accounts and new users will represent a small proportion of the user base.

For those existing users, Google does say it will send out regular reminders that they can choose to have their data deleted after a certain period of time. They can also choose to keep their data retained by Google indefinitely is they find it useful.

Within the blog, Google says it is also adding easy access to Incognito mode to Google search simply by clicking on your profile picture. The firm says it is bringing a privacy check up to Google Search soon. Users will be able to search for “Is my Google Account secure?” for example.


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