Google Adds New Option to ‘Auto-Delete’ Your Location History and Activity Data

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Google is giving you more control over how long you want the tech company to hold on to your location history and web activity data.

Google has introduced a new, easier, privacy-focused auto-delete feature for your Google account that will allow you to automatically delete your Location History and Web and App Activity data after a set period of time.

Google’s Location History feature, if enabled, allows the company to track locations that you have visited, while Web and App Activity tracks websites you have visited and apps you have used.

Until now, Google allowed you to either altogether disable the Location History and Web and App Activity feature or manually delete all or part of that data, providing no controls for regular deletion so that users can manage their data efficiently.

However, an AP investigation last year revealed that even if you turn off the Location History feature in all your accounts, Google services on Android and iPhone devices continue to track your movements.

Just last month, it was also revealed that Google maintains a database containing detailed location records from hundreds of millions of phones around the world, called Sensorvault, that’s reportedly being used by law enforcement agencies to solve crime cases.

Following the revelation, U.S. Congress last week asked Google CEO Sundar Pichai to issue a briefing by May 10 on a series of questions on how the Sensorvault database is used and shared by the company.

After concerns and feedback from users over their data, Google introduced the new auto-delete feature, allowing users to now select how long they want their location and web activity data to be saved on the company’s servers by providing them to choose between three options:

  1. Keep until I delete manually
  2. Keep for 18 months then delete automatically
  3. Keep for 3 months then delete automatically

Here’s How You Can Enable Auto-Delete Option

Though the option is not available yet, the GIF shared by Google describes the step-by-step process to activate the auto-delete feature:

  1. Visit Google homepage and tap on your profile picture in the upper-right corner
  2. Click on the Google Account button.
  3. Select the Data & Personalization tab and click Web & App activity
  4. Select “Choose to delete automatically.”
  5. Choose between “Keep until I delete manually,” “Keep for 18 months,” and “Keep for 3 months” options
  6. Click Next and confirm your choice

With these settings enabled, the search engine giant will regularly clear out every bit of the location history and web activity data Google holds on you every three months or every 18 months as per your choice.

For users who don’t want the company ever to track their location or web and app history can simply turn off their “Location History” and “Web and App Activity” settings.

According to Google, the auto-delete feature for Location History and Web & App Activity will be rolling out “in the coming weeks.”

Facebook last year announced a similar privacy feature called Clear History, allowing users to delete cookies and history ‘associated with your account’ manually. The feature has been delayed and is now expected to launch this fall.

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