Google could be collecting this data without you realizing

Google CEO Sundar Pichai appeared before lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, where he faced a barrage of questions about data privacy and security.

While Pichai said the search giant is trying to minimize the amount and type of user data that is obtained and stored, he admitted it is a balancing act to both meet those demands and users’ expectations. For example, he said some people may want search history to be available on their browser, but they don’t want data from YouTube stored.

“Expectations are constantly evolving,” Pichai said, adding there’s more work to be done.

He also noted that there are generally controls for most features that allow consumers to enhance their own privacy protections.

But if you don’t take those proactive steps, here are some of the ways Google could be storing your data:

Mail account:

When setting up your Gmail account, Google requires that you enter some personal information, which can include your name, age and address.


Unless your search history is turned off, this data will be stored.

Device identifiers:

Things like IP addresses are stored by the company. That could mean, even if you turn off location services, your phone might still give clues as to where you are under certain circumstances.

Pichai said there are also situations where GPS signals and WiFi beacons could give location clues.

Voice recordings:

Google stores data for consumers that use its voice products if they initiative the request with “Okay Google” or press the microphone button because it is treated as a search request.

This is another example of a feature that can be turned off.

Email documents:

The data from email documents is stored, however Pichai noted that the company itself does not have access to emails. Under certain circumstances, however, with express consent, the company can read them.

Does your data delete?

When asked by lawmakers whether data is really deleted when an account is deleted, Pichai confirmed that it is, but it may take some time before it disappears.