Disable Your Google Account History to Keep Your Privacy

If you are interested in keeping your privacy and use Google products it’s a good idea to disable your Google account history. To view your history you have to be logged-in.

On the account history page you are able to view and disable several histories Google is automatically keeping. These histories allow Google to tailor their ad displays to better suit your interests. As a result you get more relevant ads displayed while surfing the web.

While this sounds not bad, these histories are actually a track record of your behavior. If you value your privacy it’s recommended to minimize any tracking. All of this data is shared within Google i.e. your search behavior is linked to your YouTube behavior. Here are some direct links for viewing your histories. All of them are also on your Google account history.

Google Search History

All your searches you did while using Google’s search engine are displayed here. This can easily add up to a lot of information because people are googling a lot.

Google Location History

This is your location history which shows all physical locations you have been at while using location-enabled Google products like Google Now, Goggle Maps or other Google sites which use the location of your web browser.

YouTube Search History

YouTube’s search history doesn’t have much user-value because the watch history is much more useful. So disabling won’t hurt much.

YouTube Watch History

While YouTube’s watch history has some value to find this particular video from last week which you want to show to somebody but don’t remember the name you might want to disable this if you are privacy-sensitive.

Settings for Interest-Based Ads

This is the core of Google’s ad display technology. If you don’t want Google to know about your interests and habits to create a huge personal profile about you it’s time to turn it off. You don’t have any control about future applications of this data and might not like the consequences.

I recommend to first delete all histories and then disable all of them, especially location and interest-based ads. You don’t lose much value and all products work perfectly without these.

But Google Still Stores this Information

Disabling histories in your Google account will not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information and using it for internal purposes. It also does not change the fact that any information gathered and stored by Google could be sought by law enforcement.

With histories enabled, Google will keep these records indefinitely; with it disabled, they will be partially anonymized after 18 months.

All of this can change for the worse if Google changes it’s privacy policy again.