Google announced on Wednesday that it would automatically delete user location history and web activity after 18 months. Previously, users had to activate this setting if Google was not to save their data indefinitely.
This decision allows Google to store information and recommend items that may be of interest to you based on your previous location or browsing history, but that does not contain years of private data.
This is what is changing.
Google location tracking
Google’s location history tracking is always off by default. However, activation can be useful if products like Google Maps should contain personalized recommendations, e.g., Restaurants that you like according to your previous situation. However, Google can tell from your location history that you usually go to work at 8 a.m. and may recommend that you leave a little earlier to avoid traffic on a particular day.
When you turn on location tracking, Google tracks your location with specific details. You can see this when you see your Google Maps timeline.
If you now turn on location history, Google will automatically delete this data after 18 months. You can also set your location history to get automatically removed every month or every 36 months.
Google Web and App tracking
Web and app activity is also automatically removed every 18 months, but only for new accounts. For new YouTube accounts, history is also gets removed after three years.
By default, YouTube and app activity tracking and YouTube history are stored indefinitely for existing users. However, you can enable automatic removal of web activity and apps deployed in the past year from the “Google Activity Controls” page.
“We continue to challenge ourselves to do more with less, and today we are changing our data retention methods to make automatic deletion standard for our core activity setup,” said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, in a release.
Other privacy changes
Google makes it easy to access incognito mode for specific applications. In this mode, you can explore or use applications privately. Google does not save the history of your browser, its cookies, or the data of your site. In Google Maps, Google does not keep a history of your movements if you have activated incognito mode.
With a feature that will be available on iPhone and later for Android and other apps on Wednesday, users can tap and hold their profile picture in Google, Maps, and YouTube searches to activate private browser mode. Google has announced that it will soon allow private browsing in its family of applications, so you do not have to enable it in each application.
Google said it would also offer more proactive privacy controls and help users manage their privacy settings. Also, users can use a search to access the most important commands of the Google account.