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Google Sets Limit on How Long It Will Store Some Data

In response to criticism over its current data collection practices, Google is introducing default deletion of location history in its web and application activities for new accounts.

Following a myriad of concerns raised related to the length and complicated nature of its privacy policy, as well as the collection of usage data shared with wireless providers and the collection of data related to consumer behavior, Google is taking manageable steps to restore consumer confidence. On June 24, 2020, Google announced that it would automatically delete location history and web and app activity including voice recordings after 18 months across all new accounts. The feature will not be automatically enabled for legacy accounts; however, users will be able to make the setting change themselves.

Source: SoftwareReviews' Gmail Secure Product Scorecard. Accessed June 26, 2020.

Our Take

Google is moving in the right direction in its efforts to address historical concerns of expansive and unclear data collection and sharing practices, but it still has a long way to go. Though the problem persists around users of online applications and services not taking time to review or update their configuration settings, Google has decided to apply this change only to new accounts. While the effort is there, it is likely that a large group of online users will remain unaffected, as they still need to make the active decision and take subsequent steps to address their settings.

Simple implementation changes that warn users at service or application deployment that their default settings need review would show a true commitment to ensuring that consumers are made aware of and understand their options. More transparency and oversight are still needed to shift the default for businesses to reduced sharing of consumer data, specifically when it comes to profiting off of personally identifiable activity.

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