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February 28, 2012

Privacy PSA: Delete Google Web/YouTube history before March 1st (if you want to)

We interrupt the camera news with a privacy PSA. On March 1st, 2012, the new Google privacy policy of aggregating a user's data from all their Google-related accounts (Gmail, Web History, YouTube, etc) will go in effect. The new controversial part is that the Web History will now be thrown in the data blender.

While we can't opt-out from that controversial policy, we do have the option to delete the Web History from Google accounts before March 1st, 2012. Please note this does not stop Google from collecting or using the data, it only directs them to limit the ways in which they use a user's data. See EFF links below for the nuanced details.

Here are some tips if you wish to delete your Web and YouTube history (if you have more tips and tutorials, please post them in the comments or use the online contact form):

+ delete Web History: Gizmodo,
+ delete YouTube History:
+ more privacy tips at
+ more tips at LA Times (via Techmeme)

Limiting Google's data hunger (if you want to)
Going forward, one strategy is to use one browser for only Google-related services that require a Google login (Gmail, Google Docs, Google Reader, Feedburner, etc) and other browser(s) for everything else. There are plenty of browsers out there (Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari, IE, and more).

But if you are in love with Firefox and do not want to deal with other browsers, there are ways to do this with Firefox. One approach is to create separate Profiles and run them in parallel on the same computer. This is fairly easy to set up, you just have to start Firefox from Desktop Shortcuts. Instructions at Seven Forums, How to Geek, Life Hacker and many other places.

Firefox is the official browser of this blog!

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