Google to offer 'auto-delete' for web tracking history

The Google logo on a smartphone display
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google has said it will offer its users an option to automatically delete their search and location history after three months.

The company already allows users to manually delete data from products such as YouTube, Maps and Search, but it will soon provide a tool that automatically deletes it after a minimum of three months.

Users will be able to increase the time range to 18 months and any data older than that will be automatically deleted from their accounts on an ongoing basis. These controls will be for location history and web and app activity and will be available "in the coming weeks" according to Google.

"We work to keep your data private and secure and we've heard your feedback that we need to provide simpler ways for you to manage or delete it," Google said on its blog.

These new data management tools comes a day after both Microsoft and Facebook announced features for users to have greater control over their personal data. It highlights a growing trend of companies that offer digital services making an effort to show responsibility with data privacy.

But, as many will point out, these same companies have come under greater scrutiny recently for the way they collect and use personal data. From data breaches to violations of their own data privacy policies, each company has a large rap sheet when it comes to vague terms and conditions or the collection of data without user knowledge.

In August, Google claimed that Chrome's incognito feature allowed users to browse privately, but a study from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, found that the company could still monitor and record the sites a user visited.

When it comes to controversial data policies, however, Google isn't the worst offender. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed the extent of Facebook's improper data sharing policy, the company has gone from one data related issue to the next.

Currently, the social network is under investigation from the Irish Data Protection Commission, the US FTC and has already been fined 500,000 by the ICO - which it has appealed.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.