Google tweaks privacy settings to keep less user data

The search giant said that starting Wednesday, it will automatically and continuously delete web and app activity and location history for new users after 18 months.
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Google is tweaking its privacy settings to keep less data on new users by default.

The search giant said that starting Wednesday, it will automatically and continuously delete web and app activity and location history for new users after 18 months.


Settings for existing users won't be affected but the company will send reminders about the feature.

The change comes after Google added new controls last year that allow users to effectively put an expiry date on their data, by providing the option to auto-delete location history, search, voice and YouTube activity data after three or 18 months.

The company is also making it easier to toggle in and out of incognito mode while using its Search, Maps and YouTube mobile apps by doing a long press on the profile photo. In incognito mode, Google doesn't remember any activity during online browsing.

In another change, users will get easier access to their controls when doing Google searches. If they're signed into their Google accounts and search for terms like Google Privacy Checkup," they will see a box only visible to them with their privacy and security settings.

In another initiative, Google has recently suspended a number of apps for violating its policy that prohibits the applications from encouraging users to remove other apps.

Google said, recent app removals have received particular attention in India, and that it wanted to clarify its actions. It, however, did not name 'Remove China Apps' and 'Mitron', whose removal from Play Store has grabbed attention in the country in the backdrop of the Indo-China border tension.

'Remove China Apps' allowed users to delete Chinese games and other software from their Android smartphones, while Mitron app was being touted as an Indian alternative for China's TikTok.

Clarifying the rationale behind Google's actions, Android and Google Play Vice-President Sameer Samat said, when apps are allowed to specifically target other apps, it can lead to behaviour that Google believes is not in the best interest of its community of developers and consumers.

(Disclaimer: Additional background information has been added to this PTI copy for context)

Edited by Megha Reddy

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