5 steps to reduce what Google knows about you

Posted at 7:48 PM, Sep 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-09 23:56:38-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — On Monday, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced his office is joining a multi-state investigation into the tech giant Google's business practices, including what the AG's office says is "Google's overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic that may have led to anticompetitive behavior."

While that investigation is ongoing, here are five steps experts say you can take to reduce the amount of information Google and other tech giants can collect from you:

1. Don't use an internet browser connected to tech giants like Google, Apple, Amazon or Facebook. Andrew Borchers with Lipscomb University says that includes the popular web browsers Chrome and Safari. Borchers says to opt for a browser like Firefox instead.

2. Don't click "Sign in with Google" or "Sign in with Facebook." It may be convenient to use your existing Facebook or Google account when signing up for a new program, service or app (after all, who needs another username and password combo to remember?), but Borchers says that allows Google or Facebook to track even more usage data about you and your habits, which they then use to target ads tailored to you.

3. Turn off "Web and App Activity" under Activity Controls in your Google Account. This setting allows Google to track what you do while signed into its apps, or when you browse the internet on Chrome or visit websites that use Google's services. You can also turn off "Location History" on the same page.

4. Delete "Device Information." Under the same Activity Controls page, you can erase the data that Google collects about your phones, tablets and other devices that you may use. Contacts and calendar information may also be included here.

5. Turn off "Voice & Audio Activity." Google says it records your voice and other audio, plus a few seconds before, when you say a voice command like "Hey, Google." Google says this helps learn the sound of your voice to offer better Google Assistant experiences. This can also be turned off on the Activity Controls page.