Google on Wednesday announced improvements to its privacy features including changes to its data retention policies across its core products with a focus on storing less user data by default. The company said that the users turning on Location History for the first time starting Wednesday will have their data auto-delete option set to 18 months by default. Google said that the Web and App Activity will also have the data auto-delete option set to 18 months for new users. The auto-delete option enables Google to automatically delete the user data rather than await for users to manually wipe off the content.
Existing Users Won’t be Affected By Privacy Improvements
Google said that the company won’t change the settings of the existing users who had already turned on the Location History and the Web and App Activity settings. However, the company said that it will remind users about the data control settings through emails and in-product notifications.
The company introduced auto-delete controls in 2019 offering users an option to enable Google to automatically delete the Location History, search, voice and YouTube data after three months or 18 months.
However, the existing users unless opted into the auto-delete option will not have their data deleted from Google products until they manually wipe off the content.
YouTube History Set to 36 Months for New Users
The company said that the auto-delete option on YouTube history will now be set to 36 months for new users or to the existing users turning on YouTube history for the first time.
“This improves upon current industry practice and ensures that YouTube can continue to make relevant entertainment recommendations based on what you’ve watched or listened to in the past—like letting you know if your favorite series has released another season, or when your favorite artist drops a new album,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet said in a release.
However, the existing YouTube users who have enabled the history can select three or 18 months auto-delete option. It was also highlighted that the auto-delete option will not apply to products storing personal content such as Gmail, Drive and Photos.
Additionally, Google also announced updates to several of its privacy tools including easier access to Incognito mode on Google app. The company said that the users can switch to Incognito mode on several of its popular apps including Search, Maps and YouTube by long pressing the user's profile picture. The long press to Incognito is said to be active on Google app for iOS and is scheduled to arrive “soon” on Android and other apps.
“We’re also working to make it possible to stay in Incognito mode across Google apps, like Maps and YouTube, and will have more to share soon,” Pichai said in the release.
The company also said that the users can access Google Controls from Search by typing “Google Privacy Checkup” or “Is my Google Account secure.” Google said that the users searching for the specific terms will be displayed a box with relative privacy and security settings.