Google offers auto-delete option for location, web tracking history

Google has added a control option to users’ accounts that will allow them to instruct the company to auto-delete their location history, browsing and search data once a certain length of time has passed.

Google auto-delete location history

“Choose a time limit for how long you want your activity data to be saved—3 or 18 months—and any data older than that will be automatically deleted from your account on an ongoing basis,” the company explained.

The new control option can be found in one’s Google Account settings (Data & personalization -> Activity controls).

Pause tracking

For those who don’t want Google to track their location and web activity at all, there’s always the option of pausing this tracking, as well as Google’s collection of device information and voice and audio activity.

Just be sure to pause both Web & App Activity and Location History tracking and turn off device-level Location Services if you don’t want Google to know your movements. If you keep one of those on, they’ll know.

(Sometimes even all that doesn’t help. In late 2017, it was revealed that Google was able to pinpoint users’ location even if they disabled location services and didn’t use any of Google’s apps.)

Due to its inability to clearly state that turning off Location History tracking doesn’t mean that it stops collecting all location data, Google has been sued by private individuals and has been the subject of GDPR complaints filed by consumer protection agencies from seven EU countries.

The company has also been called in before a US Congress committee to answer questions about who, apart from US law enforcement, has had access to its Sensorvault database of location history data.

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