But this stuff can and will change to suit Google, or to suit new laws and regulations Google has to follow. For example, in the European Union and elsewhere on May 25, 2018, Google and others will have to deal with the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which completely changes how big companies can handle your, or anyone’s, data. Even though it’s an EU regulation, it impacts any company with personally identifiable info (PII) on customers there. That’s definitely Google.
It’ll probably help those of us in the US, though there isn’t a law here codifying that, except in some states like New York. Until there is, there are ways to take control of what Google has on you. That means mastering the Google My Account dashboard.
Controlling Your Google Privacy
Google revamped its My Account page in 2015; it’s meant to be a one-stop spot to take control of your privacy and security when it comes to letting this monolithic company know all about you. Rather than visiting settings for every individual Google service—Gmail, Google Drive, Android phones, YouTube, and a hundred others—you change global settings here. Mostly.
Before you do anything, visit privacy.google.com—it spells out exactly what data Google is collecting and what it does with that data, plus its advertising policies. Read this and you’ll be a bit more informed about what settings to change. Google says it collects things you do, things you create, and things that make you “you”—namely, your personal info like name, email, birthday, gender, phone number, and location.
If you want the scary version of what Google collects on you, read this Guardian article, which spells out that Google knows where you’ve been, what you’ve searched, all your apps and extensions, your YouTube history, and more. None of which should really come as a surprise.
Once you’re clear on the deets, visit My Account, which takes you to a dashboard with sections for Sign-in & Security, Personal info & Privacy, and Account Preferences.
You want to perform two actions right away: a Security Checkup and a Privacy Checkup.