Friday, May 19, 2023

Google Updates Inactive Account Policy

Juli Clover (via Hacker News):

Going forward, if a Google Account has not been used or signed into for at least two years, Google may delete the account and its contents. This includes content from Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Meet, Calendar, YouTube, and Google Photos.

The policy is applicable to personal Google Accounts rather than those created for businesses and schools. Users with an inactive account will see those accounts being deleted starting in December 2023, but Google plans to provide plenty of notice before it starts to cull accounts.

Michael Simon:

Nor is it out of step with what Apple does. In fact, Apple will delete an inactive account a lot quicker than Google will and seemingly with less warning. Here’s what Apple says in its iCloud terms:

In addition, Apple may terminate your Account upon 30 days’ prior notice via email to the address associated with your Account if (a) your Account has been inactive for one (1) year; or (b) there is a general discontinuance of the Service or any part thereof.


Update (2023-05-22): Ron Amadeo (via Bruce Schneier):

Google’s new inactive account policy already has people up in arms. The company announced on Tuesday that accounts that have gone unused for two years will be deleted, and a lot of people are asking what exactly this means for YouTube content. There are probably millions of videos out there from dead and inactive YouTube creators—would Google’s new data policy mean deleting nearly two decades of online history?


YouTube’s creator liaison, Rene Ritchie, clarified on Twitter that Google has “no plans to delete accounts with YT videos.” 9to5Google heard the same statement from a Google spokesperson. That is great news, but that’s also very vague and runs contrary to what all of Google’s current documentation says, including the blog post. Can people keep a Google account alive forever with a single video? We’ve had an email out to Google since Tuesday night asking for some kind of formal policy regarding YouTube videos, but we haven’t heard anything yet.

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Another reminder that even if you aren't signed into a Gmail account, Google will send mail to it, including warnings about impending closure. You should set up a forward to an account you actually read. (In the process, be astonished by the blast from the past that is the Gmail settings UI, especially the Forwarding and POP/IMAP page.)

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