Google Sets Time Limit on How Long it Will Store Some Data

OAKLAND, Calif. — After years of criticism about how it keeps a record of what people do online, Google said it would start automatically deleting location history and records of web and app activity as well as voice recordings on new accounts after 18 months.

The limited change, announced on Wednesday, comes after Google introduced an option last year to allow users to automatically delete data related to their web searches, requests made with the company’s virtual assistant and their location history.

The new policy sets Google accounts to delete that data by default on new accounts, instead of requiring users to go into the product’s settings to change to an option to delete. The settings on existing accounts will remain unchanged.

Google said it would also change the default setting on new YouTube accounts to erase viewing history after three years.

The change addresses the power of defaults, or predetermined choices made for the user, to guide people’s behavior in how they use online services. Critics of the company have said that some users never tinker with the settings, which means they do not exercise choice in the level of privacy or data collection that they prefer.

This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.

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