Ben Squires

Technology

How to stop Google from spying on you

How to stop Google from spying on you

Google is the world’s leading internet browser, responsible for everything from Google Maps to Gmail and YouTube, it’s quickly becoming so much more.

But is this a good thing?

While it seems like something out of the pages of 1984, Google is monitoring every little click you make online, from the items you purchase to the videos you watch.

What does Google know about me?

Quite a bit, actually. Google tracks your search and browsing history, keeping tabs on every website you visit. It also creates a private map of where you go with signed-in devices, which the tech giant collects to improve map searches “and more”.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you use an Android phone, Google has access to your contacts, calendars and any apps you might have downloaded.

And if this isn’t enough to freak you out, Google also stores brief audio recordings of your voice, plus you YouTube browsing history and any personalised ads.

So, what can I do?

While most people adopt an “In for a penny, in for a pound,” approach to online privacy these days, there are some measures you can take to restrict the amount of data stored.

Simply sign into your Gmail or Google account and type “history.google.com/history” into the web browser, where you’ll be taken to a hub containing your digital footprint.

Go to “Activity controls” and under “Web & App activity” you should see a blue toggle. Switch it off and this should stop Google from storing your data.

As an additional measure, visit “Personal Info & Privacy” and scroll down to “Control Your Content”. Click “Download Your Data” if you want to keep tabs on your web history, then get rid of Google’s record by visiting the “My Activity” screen and selecting “Delete Activity By”. And you should be able to clean up any loose ends.

Were you aware Google was tracking so much data?