Google will delete user searches and some location data after 18 months

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Google says it will automatically delete user’s website searches and visits, as well as some location data, after 18 months, here is how to set it up in Google settings

Seems like Google has suddenly grown a conscience! However, it could be a direct consequence of losing the data consent appeal in the French Council of States against the CNIL’s penalty of $55 million. Google has decided that it will henceforth delete user’s website searches and visits, as well as some location data, after 18 months.

Google said it is making a number of changes to its default settings help users to protect their privacy and also lessen the amount of data that it collects on its users. Remember, Google and Facebook are the world’s top data amassers in the world. Google generates over 25 petabytes of data per day every single day. This includes Google users’ search history and their location.

This decision to delete search history comes just 5 days after the Conseil d’État dismissed Google’s appeal against the French privacy watchdog, CNIL,  French top body, Conseil d’État had concurred with CNIL that Google’s data consent policies “do not meet the requirements of clarity and accessibility required by the GDPR” and upheld the penalty of $55 million on Google.

Google announced that it has tweaked its default settings to wipe out the web and app activity in 18 months. In short, Google will automatically delete your log of website searches and pages visited, as well as location data by default after 18 months. However, the changes only apply to new Google users. Old users will have to go to their settings page by visiting here. In this Security Settings page, they have to visit the Data and personalization window which will show these three settings.

Google says it will automatically delete user’s website searches and visits, as well as some location data, after 18 months

You will have to visit each of three, Web & App Activity, Location History, and YouTube history and set the settings to delete. The default is set to OFF as shown in the image below:

Google says it will automatically delete user’s website searches and visits, as well as some location data, after 18 months

In the next window, you can choose to Delete Data after 3 Months or Delete Data after 18 Months or keep data by selecting don’t auto-delete

Google says it will automatically delete user’s website searches and visits, as well as some location data, after 18 months

Remember to follow these steps for all three > Web & App Activity, Location History, and YouTube history. 

Google announced the changes in a blog post by CEO Sundar Pichai, in which he stated that “privacy is at the heart of everything we do,” although campaigners will probably disagree with this sentiment. Pichai said that Google had introduced the auto-delete options to users last year but are now making it by default.

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. 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. If you’ve already had Location History and Web & App Activity turned on, we won’t be changing your settings. 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.

Sunder Pichai

Data privacy is a serious concern for Google. It is under investigation from U.S. anti-trust authorities who are suggesting to break Adsense away from Google. It has already lost the appeal against CNIL and last week Facebook lost an appeal in a German court.

Also, the European Union yesterday voted in a law which calls for one ruling for all EU. This essentially means that the CNIL, German court, or any other such ruling will be upheld and applied throughout the European Union.

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"The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had." Eric Schmidt

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