Google on Tuesday said it will delete personal accounts and their content that have not been used or signed in for at least 2 years. Announcing an update to its policies, the company said it will purge the content in inactive accounts within Google Workspace. That includes your Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet and Calendar accounts, but the policy also applies to accounts in YouTube and Google Photos. Also Read - Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook are coming a step closer: Here’s how
The previous policy, which was rolled out in 2020, said that free unlimited storage for Google Photos and data stored in accounts will be deleted for inactive accounts. But the latest one includes the deletion of accounts. While the policy took effect on Tuesday, it will not immediately impact users with an inactive account and the earliest the company will begin deleting accounts is December 2023. As far as your Gmail address is concerned, 9to5Google says it will not be made available for use again after the original account is deleted. Also Read - How to invite family members to your Google Home: A step-by-step guide
“The policy only applies to personal Google Accounts, and will not affect accounts for organisations like schools or businesses,” Ruth Kricheli, VP of Product Management at Google, said in a statement. The update aligns Google policy with industry standards around retention and account deletion and also limits the amount of time Google retains unused personal information. Also Read - Android has a new feature to help you remember your friend's birthday: Here's how it works
“If an account hasn’t been used for an extended period of time, it is more likely to be compromised. This is because forgotten or unattended accounts often rely on old or re-used passwords that may have been compromised, haven’t had two-factor authentication set up, and receive fewer security checks by the user,” Google explained.
Google’s internal analysis shows that abandoned accounts are at least 10x less likely than active accounts to have 2-step verification set up. This means that these accounts are often vulnerable, and once an account is compromised, it can be used for anything from identity theft to a vector for unwanted or even malicious content, like spam.
Google said that it will measure account activity based on certain actions. So, if you are reading or sending an email, using Google Drive, watching videos on YouTube, downloading apps from the Google Play Store, using Google Search, or just using your Google account to sign into third-party apps or websites, you will be considered active. However, it is unclear if any other actions except for those mentioned above will count as account activity.
“To reduce this risk, we are updating our inactivity policy for Google Accounts to 2 years across our products,” said the company. “We will take a phased approach, starting with accounts that were created and never used again,” it added.
Before deleting an account, Google will send multiple notifications over the months leading up to deletion, to both the account email address and the recovery email (if one has been provided). As previously announced, people will need to specifically sign in to Google Photos every 2 years to be considered active.
— Written with inputs from IANS