Google announced that it will start to automatically delete the location history and web activity of users after an 18 month period.
“We continue to challenge ourselves to do more with less, and today we’re changing our data retention practices to make auto-delete the default for our core activity settings,” Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai says in a release.
Usually, users would have to manually turn this feature on, but now it seems that the search engine giant has decided to include it by default.
Google will be able to keep certain amounts of information on the online activity of users and still be able to recommend websites and adverts on things you may like based on your location and browsing history, but now, they won’t have to deal with vast amounts of data clogging up their servers. This news may also assuage certain users who worry about their privacy online.
Both Google’s location tracking and web/app activity tracking is to be affected by this change.
Google Location Tracking
Always turned off by default, users will usually have to turn on this feature to use apps like Google maps, which bases many of its services on location tracking.
Maps might recommend users certain restaurants or inform users of heavy traffic on their morning and afternoon drives to and from work all based on tracking the location of the user’s smartphone, or other devices.
When location tracking is on, Google is able to follow the location of the device with precision. Users can view their routes and the entire amount travelled in a day via the Google Maps Timeline.
With this latest change, when Location Tracking is enabled Google will auto-delete that data after 18 months. You can also set Google location history to automatically delete every three months or every 36 months.
Google Web and App activity tracking
Now, web and app activity history will also be deleted automatically every 18 months, but only for new accounts.
New YouTube accounts also will have their history deleted after three years.
For existing users, web and app activity tracking is logged by default and won’t be deleted unless certain options are enabled via Google’s Activity Control page. The page also controls YouTube watch history.
In the Activity Control page, users can customize how they wish the auto-delete feature to work. Whether to auto-delete online activity older than 3 months or to auto-delete after 18 months.