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How To Delete Your Data From Google's 'My Activity' (vortex.com) 44

Last summer Google revealed personalized data dashboards for every Google account, letting users edit (or delete) items from their search history as well as their viewing history on YouTube. Now Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein writes: Since posting "The Google Page That Google Haters Don't Want You to Know About" last week, I've received a bunch of messages from readers asking for help using Google's "My Activity" page to control, inspect, and/or delete their data on Google. The My Activity portal is quite comprehensive and can be used in many different ways, but to get you started I'll briefly outline how to use My Activity to delete activity data.
CNET points out you can also access the slightly-creepier "Google Maps location history" by clicking the menu icon in the upper left corner and selecting "Other Google activity." But Weinstein writes, "I have no problems with Google collecting the kinds of data that provide their advanced services, so long as I can choose when that data is collected, and I can inspect and delete it on demand. The google.com/myactivity portal provides those abilities and a lot more."
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How To Delete Your Data From Google's 'My Activity'

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    How deleted are the data? Are they removed from any and all backups? Are they deleted by any and all third parties the data may have been bought by or shared? Are the corresponding data removed from all 'anonymized' data dumps?

    • How deleted are the data? ...

      Your data is just moved to the hidden account Google keeps about you (and everyone else, even those w/o Google accounts) where it exists forever - you know, like Facebook does.

      • Essentially when one deletes tracking data, they just go on a blacklist for viewing permissions for that data subset.

        Also, when a second party logs your activity, they own that data not you, despite the data being about you, because they created the data. You didn't.

        • by WarJolt ( 990309 )

          The aggregated data google uses to tell stories about trends will always contain your data. Also anonymized data is easy to deanonymize. By deleting your location data you are only preventing yourself and presumably any lawyer that might subpoena your personal records from accessing the data.

        • Also, when a second party logs your activity, they own that data not you, despite the data being about you, because they created the data. You didn't.

          And why would they have any opportunity to do that? Contrary to popular belief, even if Google was pure evil, it would make all of about zero economic sense for them to make your data available to third parties. Google is an ad company, if they were to give that kind of information out, all it would do is help somebody else compete in their primary market.

    • by Mitreya ( 579078 )

      How deleted are the data?

      Deleted from your view only. As most databases, it will only flag records as "deleted", but not overwrite it.

      Are they deleted by any and all third parties the data may have been bought by or shared?

      That's a brilliant idea. Every deleted item is shared with HiddenAlphabet division and then purged from the main Google server.

      • Deleted from your view only. As most databases, it will only flag records as "deleted", but not overwrite it.

        Oh, then the anonymization and deletion pipelines I kept running while I worked for Google were all a ruse?

        Seriously, this deceitful cynicism is getting old.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      At least they give the warm fuzzy appearance that you can delete your data. Slashdot doesn't even pretend. It's why I no longer log in to my (very low UID) account on the increasingly rare occasions I come here. Not missing much, though. Until earlier this year, I hadn't found any links worth clicking for well over two years, and had almost entirely ceased even coming to Slashdot.

      https://slashdot.org/faq#accounts3

      How can I delete my account?

      You can't. But don't sweat it; the unused accounts don't hurt anyth

  • "I have no problems with Google collecting the kinds of data that provide their advanced services, so long as I can choose when that data is collected, and I can inspect and delete it on demand. The google.com/myactivity portal provides those abilities and a lot more."

    Most people, however, won't know that opportunity exists. So, only technically-knowledgeable people get the benefit.

    In fact, Google is collecting HUGE amounts of data. Anyone who uses the NoScript and Disconnect add-ons can see that Google services are used by many, many web sites.

  • Honored ? How? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by redelm ( 54142 ) on Sunday April 30, 2017 @12:55PM (#54329181) Homepage

    Non-routine deleted data is often the most interesting data of all.

    Furthermore, most databases do not actually delete records, just flag them as "DELETED". Such records might be actually deleted/overwritten when a "Compaction" run is performed to recover space into larger blocks--if ever, might just recover LRU. How do we know what Google implements even if it not DELETED==INTERESTING?

    • by Mitreya ( 579078 )

      Furthermore, most databases do not actually delete records, just flag them as "DELETED". Such records might be actually deleted/overwritten when a "Compaction" run is

      And, even more, HBase (which is modeled after Google's BigTable) keeps everything stored with older timestamps, even if you overwrite the old record.
      This feature gives you the cool ability to query "as of TimeX" (i.e. what the answer would have been yesterday). So you likely only deleting your data for the "current" queries, but not for the past ones.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That's why there are strict policies requiring periodic compactions for anything holding user data. (Disclaimer: yes, I work for Google.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yes yes, Google will definitely delete the data. Of course.

    (no they won't, they will just flag it as deleted)

  • by aglider ( 2435074 ) on Sunday April 30, 2017 @01:04PM (#54329225) Homepage
    Maybe you're talking about the feeling of deletion. Nothing will ever be deleted on Google. Be assured.
  • Last summer Google revealed personalized data dashboards for every Google account, letting users edit (or delete) items from their search history as well as their viewing history on YouTube.

    Last summer Google introduced a dashboard forcing users of Google to a weekly complicated routine involving 20 mouseclicks and installation of an app that they can only avoid by staying logged in to their Google account. Users who do not want to go through this weekly routine are banned from using google.

    Google wants to

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 30, 2017 @03:39PM (#54329911)

    I have stopped using Google which needs any login. I got burnt few years ago. I had been using Google chat for long time and whenever I felt the conversation was confidential, I will go to "chat" folder and delete specific conversation. Few years later, I moved from iPhone to Google Nexus. I had just setup phone using my gmail id and my wife was looking through my phone. Since I had deleted anything confidential, I gave the phone to her. Apparently all the private conversion that I had with my parents, siblings and others (no affair was involved) was all there. Now, these conversation were not at accessible in browser and appeared in Google Hangout app. When I contacted Google support, they told me, I have to mark the conversation off record before beginning the conversation and there is no way to delete conversation without deleting the whole chat history. Few months later, I sold my Nexus and moved to iPhone. I have stopped using gmail and all other Google accounts.

    I still use google apps anonymously. Google Search, youtube, maps are still my primary app, but no more Google accounts and for the same reasons, I don't trust Chrome browser. I only use Chrome browser for compatibility testing of my software on my company machine (no chrome on my personal machines).

  • "Would YOU like to no longer see your data on your account page?" Of course they still keep it and anything up until opting out will continue to be used regardless; it's too late. Anything uploaded to the Internet never completely goes away. Imagine deleting a file from your computer. Unless you wipe that file 30 times with zeros before deleting, some information can still be recovered. That's just your typical computer. Now, picture a company like Google and their data recovery tools, especially when crea
  • by Zanadou ( 1043400 ) on Sunday April 30, 2017 @10:33PM (#54331383)

    Actually, it's not Google Maps that that's the most creepy when it comes to location tracking: it's Google Fit [google.com].

    After using the Google Takeout [google.com] service the other day I noticed Fit does a LOT more fine-tuned location tracking than Maps, and I don't think there's an easy option to delete all of Fit's location data. Deleting all of Maps's location history does not affect Fit's location history.

    Yeah, I guess that's the whole point of fitness tracking, but it's still creepy.

  • The article goes to length at a round about way to manage to delete your activity but you can just click the Delete Activity button on the left and select all time or any time period.
  • by scatbomb ( 1099255 ) on Monday May 01, 2017 @03:19AM (#54332005)
    STOP USING GOOGLE. They're evil, screw 'em. Already switched to their competitors for everything.

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