Here's One Way You Can Get Rid of Most of the Damning Information About You on the Web
If you’re one of the millions who use Google services everyday, you might be concerned about the troves of data the company has gathered on everything from your daily habits to your porn preferences. Now, in an effort to assuage some of those fears, Google has launched a series of new transparency features to provide users with more control over what personal information the company keeps.
On Wednesday, Google added a new tool that combines data from all of its services and allows you to individually delete data entries. In its introduction to the changes, Google writes:
When you use Google services like Search and YouTube, you generate data—for example, things you’ve searched for, or videos you’ve watched. You can find and control that data in My Account under the Web & App Activity setting.
With this change, this setting may also include browsing data from Chrome and activity from sites and apps that partner with Google, including those that show ads from Google.
Google will use this information to make ads across the web more relevant to you.
Google began rolling out the My Activity page to its billion-plus users, offering a catalog of search histories, including videos and pages you’ve visited; it’s expected to be released gradually, Wired reports.
Under its privacy update, Google also offers users the ability to opt-in to its new ad-tracking program, offering a slew of ad personalization options. The new features would cull information from all of its services to provide more specific advertisements across the web through Google’s AdSense service.
The company is marketing the move as a win for privacy advocates, as the new features are not automatic, but instead require users to make a more informed decision about their personal privacy protections. Previous privacy updates automatically enrolled users, requiring them to opt-out of ad tracking.
“The fact that it’s an option, and that the user has to think through some of the account, and ad, and other implications of it, is really the best thing about it,” Future of Privacy Forum’s Brenda Leong told Wired. Future of Privacy is a think tank with corporate members including Google, Facebook, and AT&T.
Users should get notifications in the upcoming days as the new features become available; if you prefer ads that are tailor-made for your interests, it may benefit you to opt-in to Google's new features.
If you want Google to know as little about you as possible, stick with the old privacy settings. But you can still access your search history thorugh the My Activity page and gain a better understanding of just how much the tech company knows about you.