Jun 24, 2020 - Technology

Google to limit how long it hangs on to some data

A screenshot of Google's new privacy checkup


Google on Wednesday announced new limits on how long it will maintain data for some of its services, expanding a data minimization push that began last year.

Why it matters: Google has been trying to strengthen its privacy policies even as it continues to make most of its money by selling advertising.


  • Google began this effort last year at its I/O developer conference, giving users an option to automatically delete information from their location and app history after either 3 months or 18 months.
  • As of Wednesday, the default setting will be set for information to be automatically deleted after 18 months for new accounts and for those turning on location history for the first time.
  • A new auto-delete option is also coming to YouTube, with the default for new users set to auto-delete data after 36 months.
  • Google won't change existing users' settings, but will remind customers through emails and notifications about the option to turn on aut0-delete. The company said it will also make it easier for users to find privacy settings as well as to go into and stay in incognito mode in search, YouTube and maps.

The big picture: Apple has been heavily touting the privacy of its products, including data minimization, with new options coming with iOS 14. Google, meanwhile, aims to make the case that privacy shouldn't be a luxury that users have to pay for.

Between the lines: Google as a company has long profited from advertising that targets individual users; however, CEO Sundar Pichai has said that it collects well more data than it needs for advertising.

"We believe that products should keep your information for only as long as it's useful and helpful to you—whether that’s being able to find your favorite destinations in Maps or getting recommendations for what to watch on YouTube," Pichai said in a statement.

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