Last chance before Google rounds up your web history
Published Tuesday, February 28, 2012 12:48PM EST
Google users have until Wednesday night to change settings before their private searches merge into one online identity.
Starting March 1, Google will turn 60 policies into one. The new policy will let Google combine a user's searches, emails and sites accessed through Google to create a single user profile. Previously, data from Gmail, Google+ and YouTube accounts were stored separately. The new system will combined information from the services to provide Google with a single identity for each user.
This new identity will be used for targeted ads and customized search results, among other things.
The search engine will be able to access a user's personal interests, health problems, age and gender with the single policy. It can also determine a user's location based on Google Maps searches.
Jennifer Stoddart, Privacy Commissioner of Canada voiced concerns with the new policy to Google in an open letter on February 23.
However, Toronto Internet lawyer Shaya Silber says the reactions are "overblown." He said the new storage system is not much different from the current one. The major change is "the uniform policy makes it clearer for users to understand how information is used."
The new system is simple to navigate and understand, he said. "Google's making it easier." And with numerous notices posted in Google, Google+, Gmail and YouTube, "they're not trying to sneak a quick one over on us," he said.
Users have until Wednesday at midnight to opt out of the new setting. Beginning Thursday, users will be unable to delete their Google Web History.
If a user opts out, Google will continue gathering and storing information but all data will be anonymous for 18 months.
How to remove your search history:
- Log in to your Google account.
- On the right-hand side of the page, click your email address to pull up the drop-down menu.
- If you want to read more about the policy, click "Privacy." Otherwise, click "Account Settings."
- In the Services section, click "Go to web history."
- Click the "Remove all Web History" button. A prompt will appear to confirm the selection. Click "OK."
You may also want to delete your YouTube viewing and search history. To do this, click YouTube on the toolbar at the top of the Google homepage.
- On the right-hand side, click your user name and select "Video Manager" from the drop-down menu.
- Click "History" on the left, then "Clear all viewing history." Refresh the page, then click "Pause viewing history."
- To clear search history, click "Search History," then the "Clear all search history" button. Refresh the page, and click "Pause search history."
Read Google's official statement here.