Google has been quietly tracking the intimate details of millions or even billions of people’s lives for a long time.
But now you can finally order the data dragon to empty its gigantic hoard of information about your movements and internet activity after a set period of time rather than storing it indefinitely.
The firm has introduced a new tool that will allow users to delete data gathered on their location, as well as searches made using Google.
The tool is an extension to an existing Google feature which allows users to turn off data gathering for their location history and web activity, but Google said the new feature will make it easier for users to control how their data is used.
The company operates a number of popular web services, including the Google search engine as well as Google Maps and the Chrome web browser.
It said: ‘Whether you’re looking for the latest news or the quickest driving route, we aim to make our products helpful for everyone.
‘And when you turn on settings like location history or web & app activity, the data can make Google products more useful for you – like recommending a restaurant that you might enjoy, or helping you pick up where you left off on a previous search.
‘We work to keep your data private and secure, and we’ve heard your feedback that we need to provide simpler ways for you to manage or delete it.’
Under the new procedure, users will be asked to choose a time limit they want to keep their activity data – either three or 18 months – and any data older than that will be deleted automatically on an ongoing basis.
Google confirmed the tool will be rolled out in the ‘coming weeks’.
Social media and internet companies have come under increasing pressure in the last year to give users more control over their data and to improve their own privacy controls.
The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU last year gave more powers to users to control how firms use their data, while a number of high-profile data breaches and scandals involving the likes of Facebook have increased scrutiny on the industry.