Google will automatically delete search and location history by default after 18 months, but existing users have to activate controls in settings
- The firm will auto-delete search and location history after 18 months
- The default is only for new users; existing accounts need to setup the controls
- Data retention has been rolled out to YouTube – it deletes history after 39 months
The tech giant is now auto-deleting search and location history, along with voice commands, after 18 months by default.
The feature was previously offered to all users, but they had to select the option in settings – but now the system will erase the data automatically.
The changes only apply to new users, but Google will remind those with existing accounts via notifications and email applying the auto-delete controls.
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Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, said in a statement: ‘As we design our products, we focus on three important principles: keeping your information safe, treating it responsibly, and putting you in control.’
‘Today, we are announcing privacy improvements to help do that, including changes to our data retention practices across our core products to keep less data by default.’
Google introduced auto-delete controls last year that automatically and continuously deleted location history, search, voice and YouTube activity after three or 18 months.
The difference is that users would have to physically activate the controls in settings, but now Google is doing the task instead.
The new addition will automatically delete data from web and app activity, location data and YouTube. The auto-delete will only be by default for new users. Those with existing accounts will need to activate controls in settings
‘If you’ve already had Location History and Web & App Activity turned on, we won’t be changing your settings,’ Pichai shared.
‘But we will actively remind you about the auto-delete controls through in-product notifications and emails, so you can choose the auto-delete setting that works for you.’
Default retention has also been rolled out to YouTube, where auto-delete is set for 36 months for new users –again, standing accounts will need to activate the controls.
‘This improves upon current industry practice and ensures that YouTube can continue to make relevant entertainment recommendations based on what you’ve watched or listened to in the past—like letting you know if your favorite series has released another season, or when your favorite artist drops a new album,’ writes Pichai.
Users can turn on the controls directly in Search by searching for things like ‘Google Privacy Checkup’ and ‘Is my Google Account Secure?
The changes only apply to new users, but Google will remind those with existing accounts via notifications and email applying the auto-delete controls
And current users can still choose a three or 18 months auto-delete option.
However, default retention periods will not apply to other products like Gmail, Drive and Photos, which are designed to safely store your personal content, Pichai noted.
Users can turn on the controls directly in Search by searching for things like ‘Google Privacy Checkup’ and ‘Is my Google Acount Secure?’
A box only visible to you will show your privacy and security settings, allowing you to adjust them.