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Your Digital Self: How to block Google’s prying eyes from looking into your private life


Because data are a lucrative commodity, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Google is collecting a lot of info on you.

The company GOOG, +1.61% knows your name, address, phone number, email address and search history.

Search companies track websites you’ve visited, your credit card spending and work address information, and the addresses of all of your friends and family.

Read: Google parent Alphabet’s earnings soar; company plans for 20-for-1 stock split

Their data centers store information on your movements, both online and offline.

We all agreed to all or a portion of this tracking setup at one point in our lives. After all, it was convenient. However, with an ever-expanding list of lawsuits the company is building, it is prudent to consider ways to keep your information away from Google’s prying eyes, lest this data be used for matters other than delivering an “improved user experience and personalized ads.”

Here’s how you can do exactly that:

Let’s first start by turning off location tracking. Google’s location history is a feature of the Google Maps app that records the locations you have been to, as well as the time of your visits. You can access your location history by following the steps listed below:

Log into your Google account.
Click this link.
Click “turn off” button. A popup will open.
Scroll down and click “pause.”

Here’s what this will do, according to the company:

“Pausing Location History may limit or disable personalized experiences across Google services. For example, you may not see recommendations based on places that you’ve visited or helpful tips about your commute.”

To be sure, Google continues, “[y]our location may still be saved in your Google Account when using other Google sites, apps and services. For example, location data may be saved as part of activity on Search and Maps when your Web & App Activity setting is on and included in your photos depending on your camera app settings.”

As you can imagine, we’re not done yet. Next on our list is erasing Google’s records of our past activity by deleting old location history.

Here are the steps:

Log into your Google account if you haven’t already.
Click this link.
In the bottom right corner of your screen, you will see a trash can icon. Click it.
A popup window will open. Tick the checkbox and click “delete location history.”

There’s one more thing you need to do before you’ve become as private as you can possibly be within the Google ecosystem. That is, deleting records of your prior web and app activity and stopping the company from collecting that type of data in the future. Let’s first stop Google from collecting records.

Do this by following these steps:

Log into your Google account if you haven’t already.
Click this link.
Click “saving activity.”
Click “turn off.” A popup will open.
Scroll down and click “pause.”

Note that on this page you can also set up automated deletion of your prior web and app activity. You can choose between three time options: three, 18 and 38 months.

Finally, a last step: Deleting your web and app activity.

Log into your Google account if you haven’t already.
Click this link.
Scroll to “filter by date and product,” and click the “delete” button. A popup will open.
Click “always.” Click “next.” Click “delete.”

There you go. Those steps should effectively remove your activities from all the records Google keeps on you. To be even more safe, private and anonymous, please read my other guide.

Good luck and stay safe online.

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