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How to reduce your Google footprint

If you can't get rid of your Google account (yet) at least you can try to limit the damage.

categories: Global, Corporate surveillance tags: Google, Location tracking

Google is one of the world’s most effective operators when it comes to corporate surveillance. Even those without a Google account are likely to have their data stored and used by Google.

If getting rid of your Google account is not feasible, yet, you can try to limit the damage. Here are some steps most people can take to reduce their exposure to Google.

The general principle is to first stop sending new data to Google, then stop services from collecting new data, then delete old data and only then disable some services altogether.

Choose a privacy conscious browser

Obviously Chrome is not a good choice for anyone who cares about privacy. Chrome even harvests data from 'Incognito mode' sessions. We recommend Firefox with the CookieAutodelete and uBlock Origin extensions to enhance privacy further.

Switch to DuckDuckGo as your search engine

DuckDuckGo is a privacy conscious search engine that doesn't track your personal search data. Just using DuckDuckGo (DDG) as your default search engine and only using Google for incidental searches, where the DDG results are not what you had hoped for, will make a big impact on how much data Google can collect on you.

Delete your Google Pay account

You may not be aware of it but chances are you have a Google Pay account.

Google Wallet and Android Pay, since combined under the name Google Pay, were introduced as a payment solution but have also hoovered up a lot of personal information on users and offered a convenient excuse for Google to ask your exact address, preferred currency and card details.

It’s always better not to give Google detailed information on your purchases so if you use this, try and find an alternative. If you are not using Google Pay even better. However, make sure you don’t unknowingly have an account anyway by logging in to a Google account and going to http://pay.google.com.

If you do turn out to have a Google Pay account and want to get rid of it, follow the steps here.

This should remove data such as:

Google’s support page on deleting your Google Pay account states that it “may retain some info in your payments profile for a period of time after closure so that we can comply with legal and regulatory obligations.

Delete Google services you don't use

If there are some Google services you still rely on (Gmail for instance) but many others you've never used, or have stopped using, you can disable those Google services.

Go to Delete a Google Service and disable all the services you no longer use.

Disable Google Ad personalisation

How does Google personalise ads for you? By tracking your digital life. You can disable Google Ad personalisation here.

Delete your existing data with Google

Go to My Google activity and choose 'Delete activity by' from the left column. Here you can choose the date range for the data you want to delete.

Stop Google from collecting new data on you

Google's 'Privacy Checkup' allows you to "pause" the collection of your data by Google. We don't know how much it really pauses the collecting but it probably doesn't hurt to use this anyway. Head to Google Privacy Checkup and set all options to Pause.

Last updated: 22 February 2020