How to Clear Your Google Browsing and Video History Before the New Google “Privacy” Policy Is Implemented

How to Clear Your Private Data

Google launches its new “privacy” policy tomorrow. Many commentators have said that the new policy will weaken privacy protections, and allow Google to gather enormous amounts of information across its multiple platforms … and keep the information forever.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has two how-to guides on how to remove data from Google and Youtube searches.

Here are EFF’s instructions regarding clearing information from Google searches:

On March 1st, Google will implement its new, unified privacy policy, which will affect data Google has collected on you prior to March 1st as well as data it collects on you in the future. Until now, your Google Web History (your Google searches and sites visited) was cordoned off from Google’s other products. This protection was especially important because search data can reveal particularly sensitive information about you, including facts about your location, interests, age, sexual orientation, religion, health concerns, and more. If you want to keep Google from combining your Web History with the data they have gathered about you in their other products, such as YouTube or Google Plus, you may want to remove all items from your Web History and stop your Web History from being recorded in the future.

Here’s how you can do that:

1. Sign into your Google account.

2. Go to

3. Click “remove all Web History.”

4. Click “ok.”

Note that removing your Web History also pauses it. Web History will remain off until you enable it again.

[UPDATE 2/22/2012]: Note that disabling Web History in your Google account will not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information and using it for internal purposes. It also does not change the fact that any information gathered and stored by Google could be sought by law enforcement.

With Web History enabled, Google will keep these records indefinitely; with it disabled, they will be partially anonymized after 18 months, and certain kinds of uses, including sending you customized search results, will be prevented. If you want to do more to reduce the records Google keeps, the advice in EFF’s Six Tips to Protect Your Search Privacy white paper remains relevant.

And for Youtube:

1. Log in to your Google account.

2. Go to

3. Click on your icon.

4. Click “Video Manager”

5. Click “History”

6. Click “Clear all viewing history.”

7. Click “Pause viewing history.”

8. Click “Search History.”

9. Click “Clear all search history.” [This is not a repeat; it is a separate step.]

10. Click “Pause search history.” [Not a repeat.]

For additional tips from EFF for protecting your search privacy, see this.

EFF is one of the leading groups helping people to protect their online privacy. Please consider donating.

Note: Valuing online privacy could get you labeled as a potential terrorist … but then again, you’ve probably done something to earn you that label anyway.

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