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Google has announced it is revising some of its privacy rules, including a notable change to how long it retains some of your information.

Google had previously offered the option to auto-delete data such as search and location history after 3 or 18 months, but users had to select this option in the settings.

Now, when you turn on Location History on your Google account for the first time, the auto-delete option will be set to 18 months by default.

Google says the same goes for web and app activity data for new account activations.

For new YouTube accounts, or existing accounts turning on YouTube History for the first time, Google will now auto-delete data after 36 months by default.

However, none of these changes will apply to users with existing Google accounts. Instead, the company says it will remind those existing users via notifications and emails about the auto-delete controls on offer.

Why 18 months? Google says this is due to users who return to search information on annual events, such as the Oscars, and the uptick of interest in the weeks and months preceding and following these calendar staples.

All users will still be able to manually change their data retention settings if they wish, or choose to have the data retained indefinitely. 

Along with the updates around data retention, Google has announced a few others changes, including:

  • Access Google account controls from within search: Soon, when signed into your Google Account, searching terms such as “Google privacy checkup” or “Is my Google Account secure?” will launch a box showing your privacy and security settings.
  • Easy access to Incognito mode: In Google’s Search, Maps, and YouTube apps, you can now launch incognito mode by long-pressing your profile picture.
  • New privacy tips: Google says it’s adding new “proactive recommendations” to its Privacy Checkup site.

Google’s announcement follows Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, where privacy was front and center of the agenda. It’s one key way that Apple has differentiated itself from Google, whose search and ads business relies heavily on collecting user data.

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