Whether all this is good or bad depends on you and your trust in Google. Personally, I don’t mind targeted ads (I prefer them to irrelevant ones) and I’m not particularly worried about Google’s using its combined database to invade my privacy. I’ve been using Gmail and Google Voice for years and if the company wanted to be “evil,” they already know a great deal about me, including the content of all my email and a record of all my incoming and outgoing calls. Still, there are plenty of people who do want to limit what Google knows about them, and if you’re one of those people you should have the right and the tools to do so.
Limiting what Google collects
1. Don’t sign in to Google
If you don’t sign into Google, they are not collecting personally identifiable information but they may still be collecting your IP address and your surfing history unless you delete tracking cookies from your browser or use a browser that allows you to block them.
2. Use your browser’s “private” or “incognito” mode
All the major browsers offer a “private browsing” or”incognito” mode that turns off the browser’s ability to store where you have been on your computer. While using private browsing, the browsers don’t retain the browser history, search history, download history or cookies, or temporary files. However, as Google points out when you use Chrome’s incognito mode, it doesn’t ”affect the behavior of other people, servers or software,” including websites that collect or share information about you, Internet service providers or employers that track pages you visit or malicious software that tracks your keystrokes. So, if you’re signed in to Google, for example, while using private browsing, you’re still signed in!
3. Clear your Google history
You can erase what Google knows about you by clearing your Google web history. This includes pages you’ve visited while signed into Google and cookies that Google stores on your computer, even when you’re not signed in. This is actually a two-step process. There is the history that Google stores on its servers and the history it stores on your device via a cookie (opt out of Google’s DoubleClick cookies here). To clear the history that Google stores on its servers, you need to log into your Google account and click here.
4. Periodically clear your browser’s history
You can clear your browser’s history which will remove data stored on your computer, but not data stored on Google or other services. Click herefor Google’s instructions for all major browsers.