Google will change their settings to delete some personal data it collects about individuals automatically.  

These changes will only apply to new accounts. However, existing users will be able to adjust their settings. This is because the company wanted express permission to delete collected data.  

Such changes include: 

  • Wiping web and app activity, including location data, after 18 months 
  • Deleting YouTube histories, for example what video was watched and for how long, after 36 months.  

Why personal data controls?

Big technology companies, such as Google, have been facing scrutiny over its data collection practices.  

For example, Google was accused of tracking people although they had switched off location services. Additionally, “Amazon, Apple and Google all employ staff who listen to customer voice recordings from their smart speakers and voice assistant apps”

“Google introduced auto-delete controls in May 2019, to let users force the regular erasure of logs gathered about them by the company, but made this an opt-in option at the time”.

Users are offered the option to for Google to automatically delete their search and location history after 3 to 18 months. Therefore, users do not have to manually delete data. The aim is to allow users more control over their personal data.  

The reason Google collects this information is for personalised search results and targeted ads. So, this new auto-delete policy will not apply to cloud storage, photos or Gmail. The justification is that Google does not use this information for advertising.  

Existing users will also soon be shown new “guided tips” including:

  • If a user asks whether their account is secure, a box will appear for a user to adjust their settings 
  • If a user shares their location with someone, the user will be reminded that this setting is on and enquire whether they want this turned off 
  • Incognito mode will be easier to access, which suspends data collection whilst using Google

Will you be changing your settings?

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