One of the unwanted side effects of the internet era that we now find ourselves living in is the increased lack of privacy. So much of our information is now online. Companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are entrusted to respect our data and privacy, and inevitably drop the ball on occasion. What can you do? Well, as it pertains to Google, there is a new option being rolled out that will make it easier to wipe your information from online searches.
It is an auto-delete feature, which like it sounds, will automatically delete your location history and web and application activity after a set period of time, without your ongoing maintenance.
The reason Google collects that stuff in the first place is to make its services better and more relevant, or at least that is the claim.
"When you turn on settings like location history or web and app activity, the data can make Google products more useful for you—like recommending a restaurant that you might enjoy, or helping you pick up where you left off on a previous search. We work to keep your data private and secure, and we’ve heard your feedback that we need to provide simpler ways for you to manage or delete it," Google says.
There are already some controls at your disposal. For example, you can navigate to your Google account and turn on or off location history and/or web and app activity tracking. There are also controls to delete all or part of that data manually.
That latter part is a bit of a hassle, though. So, Google is rolling out auto-deletion controls. You still have to go into your Google account, but in theory, you should only have to go in once instead of on an ongoing basis. Once in there, you can set a time limit for how long your data is saved. There are two options—3 months or 18 months.
"Any data older than that will be automatically deleted from your account on an ongoing basis," Google promises.
Google says the option will be made available in the coming weeks. I suspect it will be a gradual roll out, and perhaps some will see the option sooner than that (and some will have to wait longer). Once it's available, though, you can head to your Google account's Activity Controls page and set a time limit. In the meantime, you may want to head into your account anyway to see what info is in there, and delete anything you don't want showing up.