Google enabling auto-delete of search and location history

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Setting your Google account to automatically delete old information about you will soon be possible.
Setting your Google account to automatically delete old information about you will soon be possible.
Photo: Google/Cult of Mac

Everyone who uses Google services, whether on iPhone or Android, will soon be able to have some of the data being collected about them automatically erased after a span of time.

It’s already possible to order Google to erase everything it stores about your search history, but this new feature will allow for on-going deletion.

“We’re announcing auto-delete controls that make it even easier to manage your data,” promised David Monsees, Google’s Search product manager in a statement. “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.”

Collect then delete

As discussed, the available settings will be to auto-erase after 3 months, auto-erase after 18 months, or keep everything.

This auto-erase feature will be available “in the coming weeks,” and Monsees says it will go out first to Location History and Web & App Activity. This implies the company intends to enable automatic timed deletion of all the data Google has stored about users. Still, what left is more minor, like YouTube search history.

“You should always be able to manage your data in a way that works best for you — and we’re committed to giving you the best controls to make that happen,” said Monsees.

Google’s business model is to collect all the data it can about its users and then sell user profiles to advertisers. That’s the goal of its many free products. But the company is facing threats of increased regulation on wholesale data collection, and is therefore trying to improve how it’s perceived by users and legislators. Today’s announcement is likely part of that effort.