The Borneo Post

Google will soon allow users to auto-delete location history and search data


GOOGLE users will soon have the option to automatica­lly delete their location and web browsing histories, a privacy-enhancing feature to remove data about the places they’ve been to, the websites they visit and the apps they use.

Google already offers an option to turn off location history as well as web and app activity. Users can also manually delete data that’s generated from searches and other Google services.

But the new feature lets them remove such informatio­n automatica­lly, on a regular schedule, offering a middle ground between Google permanentl­y holding the data and users having to delete it themselves. It also gives the company some cover against users choosing to shut down data tracking altogether. The user data is crucial to the company’s targeted ads and multibilli­ondollar revenue stream.

From the account menu, users can click through a prompt to decide how long Google can keep their search and activity data. Once the new feature rolls out, users can choose between keeping their data for three months, 18 months, or permanentl­y until they manually delete it. “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,” according to a blog post from Google product managers. “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.”

Google says the storage of people’s web activity makes Google products more useful. With location and search activity informatio­n, Google’s services can recommend a restaurant or continue a web search right where a user left off. The informatio­n also fuels Google’s massive advertisin­g business, which generated more than US$30 billion during the first three months of 2019, according to company earnings.

“Without identifyin­g you personally to advertiser­s or other third parties, we might use data that includes your searches and location, websites and apps you’ve used, videos and ads you’ve seen, and basic informatio­n you’ve given us, such as your age range and gender,” the company explains on its Safety Centre Web page.—

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