Google’s new privacy feature auto-deletes location history


We had our first hint this was coming thanks to a beta version of Google Maps from a few months ago, inside of which code was found that revealed Google was considering an excellent new privacy feature. And today, after getting a black eye from reports last summer that revealed Google was tracking and saving your location even when you thought you’d disabled the feature, Google announced the addition of a new privacy control available to users: Auto-deletion of your location history.

The feature, which is coming first to location history as well as to your web and app activity, will roll out in the coming weeks, according to a company blog post penned by Google Search product manager David Monsees and Google Maps product manager Marlo McGriff.

Presumably, this new feature covers all of the location data Google collects about you. The company got in trouble last year when an AP investigation revealed that users who thought they’d turned off the location history setting were still seeing their data collected and stored — not realizing that Google catalogs your location details in a few different places.

“You can already use your Google Account to access simple on/off controls for Location History and Web & App Activity and if you choose — to delete all or part of that data manually,” today’s announcement reads. “In addition to these options, we’re announcing auto-delete controls that make it even easier to manage your data.”

Here’s how it works. All you need to do is choose a time limit for how long you’ll allow Google to save your activity data, with the options being between three and 18 months. Any data older than the limit you set gets automatically deleted on an ongoing basis.