Google said Wednesday it was changing the defaults on its services in an effort to store less browser history and location data on its servers.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post that the first time a person turns on location history, the default option would be for the data to be stored for 18 months. Activity from the web and from apps would also default to 18 months for new accounts, he said.
“This means your activity data will be automatically and continuously deleted after 18 months, rather than kept until you choose to delete it,” Pichai said.
There will be no automatic change for existing accounts and people who already have location history turned on in their Google settings, but the company plans to inform existing users of the option to set up auto-delete after three to 18 months, he said. People also have the option to turn the setting off.
The change comes after growing scrutiny of the amount of data that tech companies such as Google collect and retain. Personal data helps to fuel Google’s lucrative advertising business by allowing marketers to better target their ads.
Last week, security researchers said they had discovered spyware used in 32 million downloads of extensions to Google’s market-leading Chrome web browser, prompting Google to remove more than 70 of the add-ons.
Lawmakers in Washington have also debated how much access government investigators should have to web browser and search history data. A coalition that includes Google has asked for a law that would require a warrant before the government obtains such data even in cases related to national security.