Google

Download Your Google Search History, and/or Delete It!

Google offers a way to view, download, and delete the data its collected on your searches

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Google

In January Google quietly rolled out the capability to view your entire search history with the online service, download a copy of it, and even to delete it from Google's servers. The new feature wasn't widely reported online until earlier this month when an unofficial Google blog publicized it.

You can check out your search history here, including web and image searches, and links and images you clicked on as a result. There's also an option to download under settings (the gear button on the top left of the page), as well as one to "remove items," including the ability to remove your recent search history or your entire search history.

I first saw this story on a site called Your News Wire, which led the story this way:

Are you worried about your privacy? Does the fact that Google collects information about you give you the creeps.  While many members of the global community are angry about how much information the major online and computer companies collect on you, what if there was a way to combat and stop it.  Even if it was a small part of it?

It's important to remember pretty much all the data Google has on us was voluntarily handed over by customers. For the vast majority of its highly popular service, Google is free to the end user. Data collection, which helps, for example, serve ads tailored to the viewer, is part of the way Google remains profitable and able to offer its services for free. It's a good deal, but also one anyone is free to refuse. Not so with data collected by the government, which is also unlikely to ever give you a website where you can look at some of the information it's collected on you and choose to delete it.

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  1. Yeah, I get a chuckle out of the reflexively anti-Google crowd. zOMG THEY TARGETED AN AD AT ME!

    1. While that’s the retard’s argument, there are many others which actually are legitimate. There’s nothing stopping them, for example, from complying with a warrant for collected data.

      1. How is that a Google issue?

        1. It’s a dick move that they don’t at least anonymize the data, thus making themselves less of a clearinghouse for state misconduct.

          1. That’s an interesting point.

            But what would be gained or lost by doing so, from the value of their search revenues?

            Wouldn’t anonymizing mean that they’d lose the ability to help advertisers access targeted audiences?

            1. It’s Google. They’ve managed to solve problems that were never even conceived of to get to this point. Though I have heard that they are basically hiring douchebag codemonkeys, incapable of actually solving much of anything that doesn’t appear in a Java book, so maybe the bloom is off the rose a bit.

              1. They’re probably doing this because they’ve turned their focus to lobbying and currying favor and don’t much care about solving problems as opposed to putting out fun doodles and Pac-Man sub-games in Maps.

              2. i don’t see how that answers the earlier question. wouldn’t anonymizing be hamstringing one of their core business services?

                If consumers use Googles product knowing that data is being collected, and they use it anyway, why is google obligated to do anything further? (i.e. why are they ‘dicks’?)

                The same is true of people who use store-cards for purchases and get discounts….

                ….or who take advantage of any kind of targeted marketing offering.

                People generally seem to enjoy the benefits that come from sharing their purchase/behavioral data.

                Are you suggesting that Google shouldn’t do it for anyone, out of principle? Would an ‘opt in/opt out’ option be better for the market?

                1. If consumers use Googles product knowing that data is being collected

                  Most consumers don’t really know this until it’s too late. The idea that “It was in the EULA so you DID know” is a game statists would play.

                2. Would an ‘opt in/opt out’ option be better for the market?

                  I don’t care what’s better for the market, I only care about what’s better for me. An efficient market is one where every participant only cares about his own self interest.

                  1. “I don’t care what’s better for the market, I only care about what’s better for me.”

                    That *is* the market.

                    its called “choice”. As noted – many people enjoy significant benefits from sharing their information, and regularly choose do so. You argue some do so ‘unknowingly’….

                    …but i find that hard to believe – is there anyone out there who has no idea how the internet works?

                    Do you think google should anonymize all user data even though many (if not most) users benefit from the existing system?

                3. Wouldn’t “opt in” pretty much always be better?

                  My point in the previous post was to say that Google has solved some big problems to get to the point where they can know what they know. But now they seem to be more interested in lobbying Congress/regulators rather than serving their end-users (who are not necessarily their customers, granted).

                  This is one of many reasons I’m de-Google-ifying going forward. Can’t do much about what’s already there.

                  1. “Wouldn’t “opt in” pretty much always be better?”

                    Why should it?

                    I find it odd that critics of Google seem completely unable to actually look at the existing way things are done, and argue the merits of the status quo versus alternatives.

                    Google can do any number of things, and it wouldn’t change the fact that every other business – like ‘facebook’ for instance – does everything google does *and more*, and no one says “Boo” because they only seem to think ‘using data is bad’ when its culturally-labeled as “bad corporation”

                    its basically irrational.

                    I get that there are legit concerns about how google can/is/could be used by Big Data-Sucking Government… but I’d think the problem there is the Gov, not google.

                    1. I’m not arguing about Facebook. I never once mentioned them. I choose not to have an account and probably never will have one.

                      I’m also not making the “COMCAST BOO!!! NETFLIX AWESOME!!!” argument you seem to think I’m making (or am I reading your implication wrong?).

                      Arguing this: ” is there anyone out there who has no idea how the internet works?” is as stupid as anything you’re accusing me of doing, because for 95% of people, they don’t have any idea how the internet works, just as about that many don’t know how their cable/satellite TV works, or their car engine.

                      Now, is it the duty of people to find out or the company to disclose as much as possible within reason? That’s a good question. I tend toward the former as much as possible, but I’m an engineer and am naturally curious and have an aptitude for it.

                    2. For the record, aside from Waze, I’m just about completed de-Googling myself. Choice is, indeed, good.

                    3. My point remains =

                      Most people know how google works. they still choose to use it and its services, and enjoy the benefits of targeted ads/content etc.

                      why is that a ‘problem’? if you choose *not* to use it, fine. But i don’t see how it makes Google “dicks” for creating value.

                    4. I would argue that almost no one knows how Google works.

                      I’ve said what I said. Google chooses not to apply their collective brainpower and funds to serve their end-users against the surveillance state and would rather do so in increasing amounts to lobby that same surveillance state.

                      That makes them dicks. They’re allowed to be dicks. But they’re still dicks.

                    5. Your own statement is internally contradictory

                      if “no one knows how google works”, then they’re doing a fine job of “serving the demands of their (ignorant) end users”

                      There’s little “demand” by google users for any especial anonymity. what little there is seems to be being addressed as noted by the story here.

                      If ‘protecting people from the surveillance state’ were a profitable trade-off versus being able to offer users what they currently do…. it would be done.

                    6. I know that fuel+air+spark = internal combustion = car go.

                      I don’t know much deeper than that.

                      Similarly, I know that Google returns decent search results, but I’ve got little insight as to how.

                      In any case, they’re getting in bed with the surveillance state. This is getting into direct contravention of their founding principle, not that I ever necessarily bought it.

                      I don’t like where they’re headed. I am choosing something else.

        2. Despite all the predictable hysteria here, from the normal gaggle of conspiracy nuts …
          Google says you have to turn History on. and then it works only if you’re signed into your Google account.

          I know. I know. Google is lying to us about that, part of the George Soros liberal conspiracy. So after clicking “Submit” for this, I will commit suicide.
          What’s the use?

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  2. There is absolutely no way to verify if the deletion took place (which, in order to be complete, would at least have to be a “shred -f” operation).

    1. I would assume the NSA will keep a backup, in case you need it.

      1. Right. Of course there’s absolutely nothing you can do if the data has been duplicated on another physical medium, which it almost certainly has, several times, and with potentially several other entities.

        1. What happens in web space stays in web space.

          1. In web space nobody can hear you stream.

            1. *Narrows gaze*

              1. It was the best of ‘nets, it was the worst of ‘nets.

        2. Timon 19
          there’s absolutely nothing you can do if the data has been duplicated on another physical medium, which it almost certainly has, several times, and with potentially several other entities.

          You’re hearing voice again?

  3. …including the ability to remove your recent search history or your entire search history.

    Uh-huh.

    1. Its not. Neither is

      1. Derp

        uh, I was going to say, “well, at least YOU can’t see it anymore!”. So its ‘deleted’ in a way.

  4. The function doesn’t really delete your history. It just moves it to the NSA servers.

    1. I do sort of wonder if this is some form of a honeypot tactic.

    2. Or to Hillary’s server. Although I’m not sure what difference, at this point, does it make.

      1. Maybe we’re mistaken in how we envision this server. You know, as a sole server, sitting in her basement. Maybe it’s rows and rows of supercomputers.

  5. I turned off web history and use a VPN. Google got nuttin on me!

  6. A few protips:

    1) Add the following to your computer’s hosts file:
    127.0.0.1 adservices.google.com
    (there are tons more you can add)

    2) When using google, simply log out first. (or don’t log in)
    Obviously Google WANTS you logged in by default.

    3) Use Ghostery in all your browsers

    4) Use Chromium instead of Chrome

  7. I clicked the link provided here and learned two things
    1) I have to turn History on, which is optional (click a link)
    2) Then it only works for searches when I’m signed into my Google account.

    The Help page shows how to turn History on and off, so I assume everyone will see what I saw.

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