Google is changing the default settings to automatically delete some of the data collected about users.
Web and app activities, including a log of website searches and pages visited, as well as location data, will now be deleted after 18 months.
YouTube histories – including which clips have been watched and for how long – will be cleared after 36 months.
The changes only apply to new accounts, but existing users will soon be shown new prompts to adjust their settings.
The announcement comes as the data collection efforts and business practices of Google and other major tech companies are under greater scrutiny.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the United States Department of Justice will meet with state prosecutors later this week to discuss plans to punish Google for anti-competitive behavior, including a charge that has abused its dominance in online research. .
And on Tuesday, a German court imposed limits on data collected by Facebook about local users, due to concerns that it has abused its position as market leader among social networks.
Google introduced automatic deletion checks in May 2019, to allow users to force the normal deletion of logs collected on them by the company, but made this option optional.
The American tech company draws on this information to produce personalized recommendations and search results, as well as to target ads.
“We know that information makes our products useful,” said Google product manager David Monsees.
“But data minimization is one of our important privacy principles [and] Google will no longer maintain business indefinitely unless you ask us to. “
Google has said that it wants to keep YouTube records longer than other Internet activities, as this would help to do things like making music recommendations, which would have had a longer search history.
And he added that the automatic deletion policy does not apply to the logs linked to Photos, Gmail and its Drive cloud storage service, which he claimed not to tap into for advertising purposes.
The company justified its decision not to apply the change to existing accounts based on the fact that it does not want to capture people by deleting “cured” data without their explicit authorization.
And he noticed that all users can choose to set the automatic cancellation period to a minimum of three months.
However, this means that the change will affect far fewer people than it might have.
Older users will still be affected by other measures, including the presentation of new “guided tips”.
For example, if someone uses Google Search to ask if their account is secure, a window will appear showing their settings and providing a way to change them.
In addition, other related “dynamic cards” should be introduced soon.
In one case, if a user chooses to share the location of their laptop with a friend, they will then be reminded that the authorization is still active and will be asked if they wish to disable it.
Google said it also made it easier to access incognito in its apps, a setting that suspends data logging, allowing users to activate the facility by holding down their profile picture.
“Many people are uncomfortable with the amount of information Google keeps,” said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group.
“The suggestions could mean a number of things that people do their best to ignore.
“Google should make sure everyone has made a clear indication if they want their stories to be archived and for how long, rather than if they have canceled any notices that they have read halfway through.”