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What Apple and Google Know about You--and How to Delete It

Apple and Google know more about us than most people realize, and they've recently provided ways to "take back your data."

Google and Apple know a lot about you--and me and pretty much everyone else. The companies have recently announced online controls that provide a window into what they know (and store) about your activity online. More importantly, Google and Apple have provided a way to delete this info. Here's how.

A new Apple website lets you download a copy of the digital data stored by the company, including mail, photos and any iTunes purchases. You can also create a copy of your data--including your entire iCloud drive--if you want to migrate it to another provider. You can deactivate or delete your account and all your data stored by Apple. That includes iTunes purchases, so click carefully if you want to be able to easily move purchases onto different devices.

The site was initially created in Europe to comply with GDPR regulations, and was later made available to U.S. users in October.

Google has taken a similar approach, with a new feature that lets users remove the data the company collects while you browse--such as what you search for, your location and links you open, including stories you find on Google News.

There are two ways to remove your Google data, accessible on a PC or mobile browser, as long as you’re logged into your Google account. To view the new site, go to and click the "burger" (the three lines at top left). Then choose "Delete Activity by" and a date range. You can also choose to delete your activity by product, like Ads, Search or News.  

Google also created a shortcut for viewing and deleting your activity. From the Google search page (again, make sure you’re logged in), click or tap "Your data in Search" and you’ll see your recent search activity. You can delete data collected from the last hour or delete it all.

You can also change your settings here for what Google tracks. For example, you can turn off ad personalization or Google’s ability to track your activity entirely--across sites, apps and services, including your location.

Google says it will make these privacy controls available in the Google app for Android and iOS.

“Next year, we’ll expand this to Maps,” the company wrote on its blog, “followed by many other Google products. Having access to relevant and actionable privacy controls directly from the Google products you use every day is just one way that we are continuously working to build privacy that works for everyone. “

The Associated Press reported earlier this year that even after users had turned off location services, some location data was still saved. Google changed the wording on its privacy policy to represent that “[s]ome location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps.”


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