Thursday 25 June 2020 11:38 am

Google to automatically delete search and location data

Google will now automatically delete your search and location history after 18 months, as it attempts to assuage concerns from regulators that it controls too much information about individuals.

Users will be able to toggle in their settings to wipe their data every three or 18 months, with the latter now automatically turned on. The two options were first introduced last year, but users had to opt in to the service.

The feature will apply to search history either on web or in-app, location history, and voice commands made through Google’s voice assistant. Youtube history will also be automatically wiped, but after 36 months.

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In a post announcing the changes, chief executive Sundar Pichai said the firm was dedicated to keeping private information safe and giving users more control over their data.

“We believe that products should keep your information for only as long as it’s useful and helpful to you,” he wrote.

“Being a responsible steward of your data means keeping it private. That’s why we continue to make advances in privacy-preserving technologies and invest in thousands of privacy engineers to make our protections stronger across Google products.”

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The move follows an investigation launched by the Irish Data Protection Commission in February to explore allegations of whether Google’s data handling was a breach of privacy rules.

Google’s data practices are also under investigation in the US, where the state of Arizona filed a lawsuit last month arguing it is “nearly impossible to stop Google from tracking your movements without your knowledge or consent”. 

The new rules will not apply to Gmail, or its storage platforms Photos and Drive.