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The Keyword

Public Policy

Managing your location data

Location information lets us offer you a more helpful experience when you use our products. From Google Maps’ driving directions that show you how to avoid traffic, to Google Search surfacing local restaurants and letting you know how busy they are, location information helps connect experiences across Google to what’s most relevant and useful.

Over the past few years, we’ve introduced more transparency and tools to help you manage your data and minimize the data we collect. That’s why we:

  • Launched auto-delete controls, a first in the industry, and turned them on by default for all new users, giving you the ability to automatically delete data on a rolling basis and only keep 3, 18 or 36 months worth of data at a time.
  • Developed easy-to-understand settings like Incognito mode on Google Maps, preventing searches or places you navigate to from being saved to your account.
  • Introduced more transparency tools, including Your Data in Maps and Search, which lets you quickly access your key location settings right from our core products.

These are just some ways that we have worked to provide more choice and transparency. Consistent with those improvements, we settled an investigation with 40 U.S. state attorneys general based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago. As well as a financial settlement, we will be making updates in the coming months to provide even greater controls and transparency over location data. The updates include:

  • Revamping user information hubs: To help explain how location data improves our services, we’re adding additional disclosures to our Activity controls and Data & Privacy pages. We’re also creating a single, comprehensive information hub that highlights key location settings to help people make informed choices about their data.
  • Simplified deletion of location data: We’ll provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow. We’ll also continue deleting Location History data for users who have not recently contributed new Location History data to their account.
  • Updated account set-up: We’ll give users setting up new accounts a more detailed explanation of what Web & App Activity is, what information it includes, and how it helps their Google experience.

Today’s settlement is another step along the path of giving more meaningful choices and minimizing data collection while providing more helpful services.

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