In light of the many ongoing privacy issues people have been dealing with in recent months, there are good reasons to be concerned about how large technology companies are collecting, storing, and using your data.
One company, in particular, has a huge amount of data on you – Google. They know every search you’ve ever performed, what websites you’ve surfed, where you’ve physically gone, the purchases that you’ve made, every YouTube video you’ve ever watched, and more.
There are three main categories of data that Google is collecting about you:
- Web and app history
- YouTube searches and history
- Google Maps and GPS data
Much of this data is designed to make advertising more relevant to you, but it’s your choice whether that’s a trade-off you’re willing to make. If it’s not, then you can either opt-out of Google services entirely or take some of the following steps to help control the data they collect about you.
How to View and Delete Your Web History
The most logical place to start is by viewing and managing the web activity in your Google account. To do so, login to your Google account dashboard, then go to Manage your data and personalization, and then Web & App Activity.
Every action that you’ve performed on any Google service will be listed here, including Android mobile devices, Chrome browsers, and more. Digging deep into this section, you may be shocked to discover the sheer breadth of the personal information that Google has stored, including:
- Audio clips of every voice search you’ve ever conducted
- All email searches you’ve performed in Google Gmail
- Information on every Google maps search you’ve ever made
To sift through all this information by category, use both the search bar and filters at the top.
There are several ways to delete web & app data:
What you do next is a matter of personal preference.
- If you only want to delete certain types of data, you can use the filter to view and delete records for individual services.
- If you wish to delete all your web & activity data, use the Delete Activity by option in the left-hand menu and choose a timeframe.
Choosing to Automatically Delete Personal Data
A new feature that Google recently rolled out is the ability to automatically delete data after a set period. The two current options Google provides are 3 and 18 months. Which option you choose will be based on how much you value the tailored search results, customized Google Map results, and the other personalized services that the company offers.
Preventing Google from collecting further data
If you want to prevent Google from collecting any more web or application data, go back to the Google account homepage, then select Data & Personalization, choose Web & App Activity, and toggle the upper-most switch to off.
While Google claims that turning off all data collection may degrade the Google experience, it’s not clear how accurate that claim really is.
Managing Map and Location Data
Probably the most startling type of information that Google collects about you is your physical location data. According to Google, they collect this data to “improve map searches and commute routes, as well as helping you to rediscover the places you’ve been and the routes you’ve traveled.”
While that may be true, many consumers feel uncomfortable with a company having this information, especially when they’re confronted by the sheer extent and detail of the data being collected.
If you’re up for a surprise, visit your Google Maps Timeline. It’ll show you an extremely detailed map of every place you’ve been while carrying a device running Google services, including dates and times of trips, the businesses you’ve gone to, and more.
To delete location data that have been already collected, follow the instructions above, using the “Google Maps” filter at the top of the Web & App Activity sections.
How to turn off the collection of Google location data:
In response to the consumer backlash against pervasive data collection, large tech companies have made it a bit easier to become invisible. Here’s how you prevent Google from tracking your movements.
- Start by navigating to your Google account page
- Under the Activity controls menu selection Location History
- Toggle the Location History slider to the left.
Becoming Fully Invisible to Google
According to a recent report by the Associated Press, turning these settings off may not be enough to ensure total privacy. Even with “Location History” disabled, Google still tracks your movement every time you open Google Maps, receive automatic weather updates, or do searches in your browser.
According to the AP report:
And some searches that have nothing to do with location, like “chocolate chip cookies,” or “kids science kits,” pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude — accurate to the square foot — and save it to your Google account.
The takeaway from their research is that to fully prevent Google from collecting location data, you must toggle both the Web & App Activity and Location data sliders to “Off.”
Customize but Not Eliminate Targeted Advertising
If you don’t want to prevent Google from collecting data, but just personalize the advertising experience; Google has a solution. The Google Targeted Advertising dashboard, which you can view here, allows you to configure and customize which companies serve you ads and the topics that you’re most interested in.
However, it’s important to recognize that Google’s ad network is not the only one that’s sending targeted advertisements. If you’d like to learn more about all the networks serving you advertisements, you can visit the YourAdChoices website, which will analyze and display all the Internet-Based Advertising (IBA) networks that are serving your web browser customized ads. The site also provides you with the opportunity to opt-out of unwanted advertising.
Manhattan Tech Support Can Help Ensure Data Privacy
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If your business would like to approach technology with greater confidence, ensuring the long-term security and privacy of data, our award-winning solutions can help. Get in touch and find out why companies love our service!
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