Google Will Auto-Delete Data It Collects On You – But There's A Catch

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Google will auto-delete data it collects on location, web and browsing activity and YouTube history after 18 months, however there is a catch.

This will only be in effect for new users.

Google is looking to make it easier for those that want to maintain their privacy on the web. Instead of having to go in and change your preferences and deleting your data on your own. Google will auto-delete your data. And this is going to be the default setting too. Instead of requiring users to do it.

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Location History and Web & App Activity will auto-delete after 18 months, according to Google. While YouTube history will automatically be deleted after three years.

These are just the default settings

The good news here, is that you can set Google to automatically delete your data sooner. But, that's not the default setting. You can set your account data to be deleted after three months.

That's a much shorter time than 18 months. However, it's likely still not enough for most people.

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Right now, there is still no option to tell Google that you don't want your data collected at all.

Changing these default settings is actually a big deal. For the most part, people stick with the defaults. If we were to ask you how to change these settings, you likely wouldn't even know where to go to change them. And that's because the majority of us have never adjusted these settings.

This is why privacy advocates have been pretty skeptical of the data controls that big tech companies offer. While they offer options to limit the data they collect, quite significantly, they are not the defaults. Meaning the number of people that have the strictest data collection options, is pretty small.

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For example, in May 2019, Google had announced that it would auto-delete data on location, app and web history. That's cool and all, but users had to go enable it. And Google has many billions of users. The number of people that likely did go and enable it, was likely very small.

Google is making another step in the right direction here, but more still needs to be done. Especially since this option is only the default for new Google accounts. So those of us that have had Google accounts for years, and even decades, are stuck with the old privacy defaults. Of course, we can go in and change them, but most of us won't be doing that.