Google announces auto-delete for location and web activity

Google to offer ‘auto-delete’ for location and Web activity |  New option coming soon auto-deletes usage data but doesn’t cover all activity. Google will soon be offering users the option to automatically delete their search and location history in rolling intervals of either 3 months or 18 months. The search giant already gives users the ability to manually delete data that is collected when using Search, Maps, and YouTube. On May 2, Google anounced:

Choose a time limit for how long you want your activity data to be saved—3- or 18-months—and any data older than that will be automatically deleted from your account on an ongoing basis,” …These controls are coming first to Location History and Web & App Activity and will roll out in the coming weeks.

The company has been facing increasing scrutiny over the personal information it collects. Last November it was accused of tracking peoples’ movements, even when location history was supposedly switched off. Google location history saves the locations reported from mobile devices that are logged into users’ Google accounts.

Saved Web and app activity includes “searches and other things you do on Google products and services, like Maps; your location, language, IP address, referrer, and whether you use a browser or an app; Ads you click, or things you buy on an advertiser’s site; [and] Information on your device like recent apps or contact names you searched for.” Users can already switch off the features that save location history and Web and app activity in “Google activity control settings”.

But the new auto-delete option gives users who are concerned about the data storage can save activity data for a non-forever period of time, without having to manually delete it periodically. According to an article by arsTechnica, Chrome browser history as well as “activity from sites, apps, and devices that use Google services” are currently listed as a subset of Web and app activity in Google’s activity controls settings, and the saving of this data can be disabled.

The new auto-delete function doesn’t appear to cover Chrome history in a preview provided by Google, however. Note how Chrome history is listed separately at the end of this short video showing how you’ll be able to enable the auto-delete functionality when it rolls out. Sources and credits: arsTechnica, BBC News

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