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Google to wipe data on new accounts after 18 months

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 (US time), 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. At the time, it offered users the ability to erase the data after three months or 18 months.

Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google's parent company Alphabet, said the company was "challenging ourselves to make helpful products with less data."

Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google’s parent company Alphabet, said the company was “challenging ourselves to make helpful products with less data.”Credit:AP

The 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, which boasts that it has more than 1 billion monthly users for seven of its services, said it did not alter the settings for existing accounts because it did not want to upset users with an unexpected change. However, the company said it planned to alert users to the ability to change the deletion settings in emails and promotions on its products.

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