Safeguarding Your Privacy: Managing Google Bard’s Data Collection and Location Tracking
Oct 21, 2023

With its latest update, Google Bard has extended its capabilities to sift through Google Docs, unearth archived Gmail messages, and search through the vast YouTube repository. As this powerful chatbot evolves, users may rightfully wonder about the security of their personal data. Here, we delve into the steps you can take to maintain your privacy while using Google Bard, and also highlight areas where privacy options remain limited.

Launched in March, Google Bard, a sibling of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, leverages chatbots to emulate human conversation but aims for more practical applications. Yet, with every interaction logged and utilized to train the AI, it’s imperative to understand how to protect your data.

Controlling Data Storage:

By default, Google Bard retains all interactions for 18 months, including your prompts, approximate location, IP address, and any addresses associated with your Google account. To prevent this, go to the Bard Activity tab, disable auto-saving of prompts, and delete previous interactions. This choice keeps your conversations safe from human review, except for cases reported to Google. However, disabling Bard Activity may limit the use of extensions connecting Bard to Gmail, YouTube, and Google Docs.

Data Removal and Deletion:

While you can manually delete Bard interactions, Google may retain this data on its servers. To balance improvement and privacy, Google anonymizes selected conversations for human review, storing them for up to three years.

Public Sharing and Google Search:

Shared Bard conversations might be indexed by Google Search, but you can remove them by going to Settings, selecting Your public links, and clicking the trash icon. Google is working to prevent shared chats from being indexed by Search.

Privacy with Gmail and Google Docs:

Google assures that Bard summaries and content extractions from Gmail and Google Docs are never eligible for human review. However, the exact methods of data utilization remain undisclosed.

Location Data:

Bard can access your location data. Even if you decline precise location sharing, Bard still approximates your location using your IP address and personal addresses linked to your Google account. Google claims to anonymize this data by aggregating it with that of at least 1,000 others within a 2-mile radius.

Location Tracking and IP Addresses:

IP addresses are commonly used to determine users’ locations, including by Google Search for “near me” queries. While commonplace, it’s essential to remember that this may raise privacy concerns.

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN):

To obscure your IP address and location, consider using a VPN, available for both PCs and mobile devices. Choose a VPN that suits your needs for an added layer of privacy.

In conclusion, maintaining privacy with Google Bard requires diligence. By understanding and managing the settings, you can mitigate potential risks. However, it’s crucial to remain vigilant in an era where data privacy is of utmost importance. Keep in mind that these measures aim to protect your data, but the complete extent of data utilization remains undisclosed.