Google is turning search history tracking on for all Google Workspace customers
Google is sending out emails to Google Workspaces administrators currently in which it details upcoming changes to search history tracking.
The company decided to split Workspace data from other data that it accumulates. Tracking is managed by the Web & App Activity setting currently for all users. Administrators may turn off Web & App Activity for all users, in which case users don't have options to turn it back on. If administrators leave the setting alone, users have control over the setting and may turn it off or keep it enabled.
A new Google Workspace Search History setting is created for Google Workspaces customers that takes over most of the functionality of the Web & App Activity setting. Google plans to migrate all Google Workspaces customers and will set the new tracking option to on for all users by default, even if Web & App Activity was turned off previously.
Starting March 29, 2022, we’ll remove the Web & App Activity setting in the Admin console and introduce a new end user setting on the My Activity page called Google Workspace search history. This means end users will be able to control the storage of their core Google Workspace services search history data after March 29, 2022.
To make matters complicated, Google is going to keep the Web & App Activity setting, but it is used only to control the storage of "search data from additional Google services". Core Workspaces services such as Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, Chat or Calendar will ignore the state of the setting, as these are managed by the new Google Workspace Search History setting once the change lands. The Web & App Activity setting is removed for new customers.
The retention period is migrated. It is set to 18 months by default, but it may be changed to never, 3 or 36 months instead.
Google notes that its Workspace service does not use customer data for advertising purposes.
Google customers who want to turn off the tracking can do so in the following way:
- Go to the My Activity page.
- Click Other Google activity > Google Workspace search history.
- Click Off.
Google published a support page on the Google Workspace Admin Help support site that answers questions that administrators and users may have.
As always, it is a good idea to check settings regularly as companies sometimes, by accident or on purpose, modify defaults or reset user changes.
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