You Can Soon Delete your Google Location Tracking Data
In just a couple of weeks, Google is going to roll out a new privacy feature that manually allows you to delete location tracking data stored by the search engine. The Auto-deletion of your location history feature allows you to be in control of what they wish to share with the search engine. Read more about it below.
Reason Behind The New Feature
Having your apps, search engine, and browsers collect information about you can be pretty disturbing. It’s more unsettling to learn that even when you disable the location setting feature, Google can still track you. Google’s many apps are also responsible for gathering data about you. For these reasons, users have issued requests to simplify their data management process. In response to their requests, the company announced that it’s introducing a new feature that helps them manage their data more effectively. Users will be able to auto-delete their location and activity data after 3 or 18 months time.
What Does Google’s New Feature Do?
Google’s new feature for your Google account will enable you to automatically delete your Location History and Web and App Activity data after a significant period of time, and that is after either three or 18 months. This feature will help you delete the data after that time, and then it will continue to be deleted on a normal basis.
Last year, The search engine was involved in heated contestations regarding its location tracking that apparently continues to track you even when having the Location History setting turned off. The only way you would be able to prevent your location from being tracked is by also turning off the “Web and App Activity” setting. Essentially, this feature was designed for Location History and Web and App Activity data. With Google’s new feature, you’ll be able to delete data for both of these settings. This means that all of your location history data will no longer be at Google’s disposal.
How to Turn off Web & App Activity
Follow the following steps in order to learn how you can turn off the Web & App activity on multiple platforms.
For Android users
- Go to Google Settings
- Access Google Account > Data & Personalization > Web & App Activity
- Toggle off Web & App Activity
For iOS users
- Sign-in to your Google account on a browser
- Access your account settings in a browser: Google Account > Personal Info & Privacy > Go To My Activity > Activity Controls < Web & App Activity.
- Toggle off Web & App Activity.
More on the Feature
Google’s new feature will extend to a user’s browsing history in Chrome and the in-app data and the Google Discover feature for Android. However, Google would still not confirm how far the auto-delete feature extends across its products. But, it’s certain that the feature should apply to services that use your Google login.
The company already has tools set to turn location or app activity data on or off. Although users can still delete their data manually, it’s very time-consuming. This new feature will most probably still allow Google apps to fulfill users’ needs. It will also erase their data within a reasonable timeframe. While having Google track some of your activity can make your browsing more convenient at the moment of time, no one wants that data lying around for the long term.
Why Does Google Track You?
While you might wonder what’s in it for Google to keep track of your location, there’s a lot at stake for the company. Profitable gain is one of the main factors. The primary reason why Google is obsessed with tracking location is the data. The more data Google obtains, the more it can use it for its own benefit. The company can provide companies with better advertisement opportunities upon selling users’ data. As a matter of fact, Google itself has stated that location records stored in the “My Activity” settings are used to target ads. Ad buyers have the option of targeting specific locations. But, they have to pay Google a hefty price in order to do so.
A Google spokesperson stated in an email that the company agreed on 3- and 18-month timeframes based on users’ preferences. The company selected such timeframes because the data can be representative of a three-month season or multiple seasons. Google said this feature will first arrive for location data. Then, it will expand to web and app data “in the coming weeks.”
Google’s Data Collection Dispute
Some European organizations have made an alliance and filed a complaint against Google’s location tracking. They managed to do so with the help of the GDPR’s local data protection authorities. The complaints suggested that Google makes use of different technologies to force users to use its location tracking systems. Online users are already aware of how Google uses both the “Location History” and the “Web & App Activity feature to collect location-based data.
Norway’s Forbrukerradet’s research, however, states that Google employs other manipulative techniques that trick users into leaving the location tracking features on. These techniques include hidden default settings, deceptive click-flow, app permissions, and always-on settings. If the GDPR responds in the 7 organizations’ favor, Google will be subject to a huge fine. In the company’s defense, tracking is off by default on their systems and any activated tracking method can be paused at any given time.
Google’s New Privacy Feature Deletes History – Conclusion
Is this new feature going to wipe Google’s record clean in regards to its data collection history? Probably not. However, the feature is still much welcome. But, let’s face it, data collection is inevitable. Although this new feature doesn’t entirely protect users from all the data the company gathers, we’re willing to give it a shot.