New Privacy Controls for Maps, Assistant, Youtube

John Lister's picture

Google is making three changes to make it easier to control privacy while using its services. Now, Google Maps, YouTube and the Google Assistant have the option to control privacy settings in more detail.

The company's privacy chief Eric Miraglia wrote that controlling privacy and security settings should be as easy as using the services themselves. That might provoke some skepticism from critics who believe Google wants to maximize the amount of data it stores about people. (Source:

Google Maps Goes Incognito

The first change is to Google Maps, which is now getting an "Incognito mode." This works similar to the Incognito mode found in the Google Chrome browser.

Once activated, Incognito mode means details of where users search for will no longer be saved to their account and won't affect personalized experience. However, while in Incognito mode, users won't see any personalized information such as automatic updates on their commute. (Source:

It's worth mentioning that Google's announcement doesn't cover any records of your location and movement. It's already possible to switch off location tracking for Google apps, albeit with some obvious major limitations to using Maps. Users can also set their location history to automatically delete any data more than either 3 or 18 months old.

The same automatic deletion options are now coming to YouTube. Google didn't explain why its restricted to these two particular time periods rather than the user deciding exactly how long data should be kept before automatic deletion.

Google notes it's all a balancing act: the longer users keep data in their YouTube history, the more accurate (in theory) any personalized recommendations will be.

Google Assistant: Talk to Delete Data

The final change is to the Google Assistant. That's the voice activated tool that's available on phones as well as smart speaker devices like Google Home. At the moment, the only way to delete the history of previous questions you've asked the Assistant is through account settings pages.

The changes mean users can now simply ask the Assistant by voice to delete commands and queries. This could simply be "Hey Google, delete the last thing I said to you" or a time period such as "OK Google, delete everything I said to you last week." (Note that beginning the query with either "Hey" or "OK" works). To delete data that's more than a week old, users will still have to go into settings pages.

What's Your Opinion?

Would you find any of these changes useful? Do they go far enough? How much control do you want over Google storing data beyond simply having an option to delete everything?

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Focused100's picture

This is a good thing and should have happened long ago.
What about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram...etc.