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Google Introduces New Feature to Auto-Delete Your Location and Activity Data

Illustration for article titled Google Introduces New Feature to Auto-Delete Your Location and Activity Data
Image: Carsten Koall (Getty)

Knowing that our apps gather boatloads of information about us—some for years—can be unsettling. Google’s various apps are chief among these, and the company said it has heard user requests to make managing their data a simpler process. The company announced Wednesday that it’s rolling out a new feature to allow users to auto-delete their location and activity data after 3 or 18 months.

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According to TechCrunch, the feature will extend to a user’s browsing history in Chrome, as well as in-app data and the Google Discover feature for Android. When asked by Gizmodo for confirmation, Google would not confirm how far the auto-delete feature extends across its products but it should apply to services that use your Google login. 

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This is a pretty neat and welcome feature. Google already has tools in place to turn location or app activity data on or off, and users can still delete their data manually. But no one has the time for that, and this new feature will likely still allow Google apps to serve user needs while also wiping their data within a reasonable timeframe. Google tracking some of your activity can make your browsing more convenient in the short-term but no one wants that data sitting around forever. 

A Google spokesperson told Gizmodo by email that the company landed on 3- and 18-month timeframes after it found they were preferred by users, as the data can be representative of a three-month season or multiple seasons.

Google said this feature will first arrive for location data before later expanding to web and app data “in the coming weeks.” 

Is this going to absolve Google of all of its data collection and privacy sins? No. But the feature is a welcome peace offering from a company whose data collection is damn near inescapable. And while it certainly doesn’t shield users from all the data the company collects on them, hey, I’ll take it.

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DISCUSSION

Google already has tools in place to turn location or app activity data on or off

If by in place you mean you can turn it off and your phone will hound you every second of your life until you turn it back on, then i guess you or technically right. Until they allow you to block all of the notifications it triggers, I wouldn’t call it useful.