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    4 Ways to Protect Your Mobile Privacy on Google

    Google continually collects a huge amount of data on our online activity, including user location and search history. In addition, the data we share with other sites can end up on the search engine’s results pages.

    This all leads to the risk that our sensitive personal information will end up in the wrong hands. Here are four steps you can take to protect your privacy on Google when you’re using your mobile phone.

    1. Familiarise yourself with Google’s privacy settings

    Google has a range of privacy settings, which you can access through the “Manage Google Account” option in most Google mobile apps. Among other settings, under the “Data and privacy” section, you can remove your web history, location history and app history. There is also the extreme option to delete your Google account.

    If this is a step too far, however, another tip is to sign out of Google whenever you are not actively using your account to limit its ability to collect data. Going beyond just Google’s privacy settings, you can protect yourself further by accessing the internet through an incognito browser window or a VPN and keeping your security software updated.

    2. Remove your personal information from Google Search

    Limited options for removing personally identifiable information (PII) from Google Search have long been available, including for mobile users. However, in April 2022, the policy was expanded to cover additional PII. Google has also introduced a “Results about you” tool to facilitate the process of requesting the removal of PII.

    However, even with the latest expansion, the PII removal process is not comprehensive. Google considers each request individually before approving or denying the removal of information. The request might be denied, for example, if the information is considered newsworthy or if it appears on an official site.

    3. Limit the personal data that appears on Google Search

    As Google states in the blog post on its expanded PII policy, removing information from Google search results does not remove it from the internet or mobile search apps. So, for greater online privacy, you need to cast a wider net. One example is the many people search sites that allow users to look up personal details, such as addresses and phone numbers.

    Removing your details from these look-up sites can limit the PII that appears on Google Search results. Using a data removal service can make this process easier, as it can contact all the relevant people search sites, as well as other data brokers, to request the removal of your personal data.

    4. Stay vigilant about how you share information online

    One of the main ways to protect your mobile privacy on Google and elsewhere is to remain vigilant. When using mobile apps, think about how you are sharing your personal information and the implications. An example is social media. Users often take a relaxed approach to how they interact with their friends and contacts on these platforms and to the types of information they share. However, remember that what you share on social media is likely to end up on the Google Search results of your name. So, consider deleting your accounts or setting them to private.

    Finally, it is important to keep up-to-date with privacy developments which could affect how your mobile data is stored and shared. While Google and other companies continue to refine and expand their policies, governments across the world are also tightening up their regulations and holding organisations to account over failures to act as responsible stewards of users’ PII.

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