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Google will now let you automatically delete location and activity history. Here's how

A small win in the fight for more privacy control.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G, mobile networks, wireless carriers, phones, tablets, streaming devices, streaming platforms, mobile and console gaming,
Jessica Dolcourt Editorial Director, Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt's career with CNET began in 2006, and spans reviews, reporting, analysis and commentary for desktop software; mobile software, including the very first Android and iPhone apps and operating systems; and mobile hardware, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of practical advice on expansive topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
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Google is letting users take back a little bit more of their privacy

On Wednesday, the search giant introduced a new autodelete feature for location, app and web history. As opposed to manually having to wipe their histories, with the new feature Google users will be able pick a length of time, either three months or 18 months, that Google will save the data. Any older data will be deleted automatically. 

The option to let Google keep the data until you manually delete it will also remain. You can also still choose to pause Google's web and app activity tracking. 

In addition to helping Google with ads, the company says this data allows it to provide better search results and recommendations in apps like Google Maps. 

Like prior privacy controls, the autodelete function can be enabled in your Google Account. Google says the controls will begin rolling out "in the coming weeks."

Google's privacy update comes as tech companies face increasing scrutiny over how they handle user data. While it may not be a complete win, as it appears users still will need to opt in to enable the feature, it's a step in the right direction. 

Watch this: Android apps by the thousands collect user data you can't erase

How to delete your Google location data

1. Open your Google account

2. Scroll and tap Data & personalization

3. Under Activity Controls, tap Web & App Activity

4. Select Choose to delete automatically

5. Tap Choose how long to keep Web & App Activity

6. Tap to select either 18 months or 3 months, and save

Remember, this is rolling out to users, so don't be alarmed if you don't see these options immediately.

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Originally posted May 1 at 10 a.m. PT.