Google’s Upcoming Policy: Deleting Inactive Accounts Across Its Platforms
Google has recently announced a significant change to its policy regarding account inactivity. In an effort to increase security and maintain platform integrity, the tech giant is set to start deleting inactive accounts across its platforms starting in December 2023.
The upcoming change is set to impact a wide variety of Google’s services. These include platforms like Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar, YouTube, and Google Photos.
New Policy Details
The accounts identified for potential deletion are those that haven’t been signed into for the past two years.
In a blog post, Ruth Kricheli, Google’s VP of Product Management, elucidated the rationale for this decision.
The primary concern is that inactive accounts are more susceptible to compromise.
“Inactive accounts are easily compromised or hijacked, and that presents a risk not just to the inactive user, but to all users,” Kricheli states.
Despite Google’s robust security measures including spam filters, phishing protection, and account hijacking prevention, a long-unused account is still vulnerable.
This is due to the likelihood of such accounts relying on outdated or re-used passwords, or lacking two-factor authentication.
The Need for the Update
Quoting Kricheli on the importance of this policy update:
“To reduce this risk, we are updating our inactivity policy for Google Accounts to 2 years across our products. Starting later this year, if a Google Account has not been used or signed into for at least 2 years, we may delete the account and its contents – including content within Google Workspace (Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar), YouTube and Google Photos.”
This policy is primarily aimed at personal Google Accounts. Organizational accounts, such as those for schools or businesses, will not be affected.
Google’s shift to this two-year inactivity policy aligns with industry standards around retention and account deletion, while also limiting the amount of time Google retains unused personal information.
Google assures its users that the policy, effective immediately, will not result in immediate account deletion.
The earliest projected start for account deletions is December 2023, and the process will take a phased approach, starting with accounts that were created and never used.
To ensure users are given ample warning, Google will send multiple notifications leading up to the deletion. These will be sent to both the account email address and the recovery email, if one has been provided.
Keeping Your Account Active
Google has provided clear guidelines on how to prevent an account from becoming inactive:
Sign in at least once every 2 years.If you’ve recently signed into your Google Account, it’s deemed active.
The same applies if you’ve used any of Google’s services. An active account like this will not be subject to deletion.
Engage with Google services.One way to keep your account active is by reading or sending an email.
Using Google Drive or watching a YouTube video is also considered account activity. Downloading an app from the Google Play Store is one activity that can maintain your account’s active status.
Utilizing Google Search is another activity that contributes to keeping your account active. Also, signing into a third-party app or service with Google can aid in maintaining your account’s active status.
Maintain an existing subscription set up through your Google Account. This could be to Google One, a news publication, or an app.
This policy change underscores Google’s commitment to maintaining a secure platform for its users.
While it may seem drastic, the move is in line with industry standards and offers users ample time and notification to ensure their accounts remain active.