Google rolls out auto-delete feature for location data

Promised feature allows users to set a three or 18-month expiry on some data

Google has promised a feature that lets users automatically delete their location history and activity. Photograph: iStock.

Google has promised a feature that lets users automatically delete their location history and activity. Photograph: iStock.

 

How much does Google know about you? If you are a regular user, the answer is probably “quite a lot”.

But that could be about to get a lot less after the rollout of a feature that lets users automatically delete their location history and activity from their accounts after a set period of time.

The technology giant had promised the feature in May, amid a growing sense of unease about privacy online. Google’s services collect a large amount of data on its users, depending on the permissions granted, including locations they visited, websites they accessed and searches they perform through its search engine.

However, users may have been unaware of the scale of the data collected, and how long Google keeps it associated with your account.

Enter the new auto-delete controls, which allow users to decide if they want their history saved for up to three months or 18 months. Data older than that will be removed from your account automatically once you enable the auto-delete settings.

The controls are being brought in for location history, and web and app activity, first.

The introduction of the feature means the onus is no longer on the user to regularly delete their activity from Google, or disable all activity tracking.

Google uses the data to personalise and target its services for users, such as using location data to recommend local businesses or remembering previous searches.

To set the new limits, go to the My Activity section of your account (myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols), and select Manage My Activity.