Google photos privacy, and how to improve it

Approx Reading Time: 9 minutes

Google Photos is a photo/video storing, and sharing app that lets users back up and share their photos or keep them private if the user wants. What makes Google Photos a privacy concern is that if you have a Google account you by default get a Google Photos account and if the photo sync is on the photos from your android or iOS device might be getting uploaded to your Google Photos account. But even if you regularly use Google Photos it still pays to know about the privacy of your Google Photos and how you can improve your Google Photos privacy. Some commonly asked Google Photos privacy questions and their answers are as follows:

How does Google Photos deal with user privacy?

Google Photos is protected by Google’s state of the art data security measure including encryption of user data, two-factor verification, putting up firewalls to protect your stored photos, physical surveillance of storage centers, and limiting access to user data.

How can you improve your privacy if you use Google Photos?

You can improve your Google Photos privacy by turning off album sharing, stopping others from adding photos to your album, leaving unwanted albums you are added in, and blocking unwanted individuals.

How can you get information removed from Google Photos?

You can delete entire Google Photos albums to remove all of your data.

How can you find out what information Google Photos has about you?

You can access all of your Google photos and videos in your Google Photos account.

Does Google Photos tell you who they share your information with?

Google Photos data may be shared with Service providers, Google affiliates, and legal entities.

Does Google Photos remove user information from third parties?

Google can only delete your data that it has shared with its affiliates and service providers.

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So there you have it Google ensures the safety of your photos and videos while they are stored with them. But as a user, you have to play your part in keeping your data secure and it pays to know your privacy rights and controls as a Google Photos user. And in this article, we are going to answer the most commonly asked Google Photos privacy questions in detail to help you safely and privately use this service.

How does Google Photos deal with user privacy?

Photos and videos are one of the most private information you own. And people are especially conscious about the security of their images and video data. Luckily when you upload your photos in Google Photos your data is being protected by one of the most sophisticated data security and privacy system in the whole tech industry. Google maintains the privacy of your Google Photos with the help of the following measures:  

● Encryption of user data:

Google encrypts user data on all its services to make sure that your personal data doesn’t get viewed or accessed by an unauthorized individual. When you upload a video or photo to Google Photos it is converted into a coded form and stored in Google’s servers. The encryption method also applies to your data while it is being transferred from your device to Google servers to make sure that no one can intercept your data and steal it while it is in transit. Your encrypted photos and videos can only be decoded and viewed by you via your Google Photos account.

● Two-factor verification:

Your Google Photos account can only be accessed using your main Google account and Google provides a two-factor verification feature to Google account holders. Two-factor verification as the name suggests allows users to use a second authentication method along with your Google account password when signing in to their account. This feature keeps your account and all the data secure even if someone steals your account password.

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● Putting up firewalls to protect your stored photos:

Any device that is connected to the internet is at the risk of cyber-attacks and that includes Google servers where your Google Photos data is stored. So to keep your photos and videos safe from being stolen Google constantly monitors the stored data for any malware or malicious activity that might result in a data breach and sophisticated firewalls make sure that cybercriminals cant plant any harmful codes or programs in Google servers to steal user data.

● Physical surveillance of storage centers:

Cybercriminals don’t just break into data servers using malicious programs and viruses. In fact, a physical break-in is equally a threat to your Google Photos data. This is why Google keeps tight surveillance and restricts access to storage servers to ensure that user data doesn’t get accessed by anyone.

● Limiting access to user data:

Even if you are a Google employee you can’t gain access to Google Photos data of users unless you are authorized and have the necessary privacy training to handle user data. Only certain individuals within Google can access user data for maintenance and security purposes and even these individuals can not copy or go through user data. 

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How can you improve your privacy if you use Google Photos?

Your Google Photos account and its data is not entirely up to Google to secure and maintain. If you are not careful with your Google Photos account and use it recklessly you are exposing yourself to privacy risks. So here are some steps you can take to improve your Google Photos account privacy:

● Turning off album sharing:

If you have shared an album with someone then the photos you add to the album are accessible to everyone you are sharing your album with. This is why it is a good idea to turn off album sharing to keep your photos private. Since Google Photos are mostly uploaded from mobile devices you can use the Google Photos mobile app to stop sharing albums. Simply open the Google Photos mobile app and select the “Albums” option. Tap on an album you want to stop sharing with others and click on more button where you will find the “Sharing options”. Tap on sharing options and turn the switch next to “Share” in off position to stop sharing that album and all its Photos.  

● Stopping others from adding photos to your album:

Google Photos allows you to collaborate with others which means other users can add photos and videos to your albums. If you want to stop others from adding files to your albums you can turn off the collaborate option by going to http://photos.google.com/ and select the “Sharing” option. Next, select an album and click on more and pick “Options”. Here you will find the option to turn off “Collaborate” for that album to prevent anyone from adding photos to your album.  

● Leaving unwanted albums you are added in:

If you want to remove your photos, your likes, or comments from an album or simply want to leave an album because of privacy concerns you can leave that album. Simply go to http://photos.google.com/ and click on “Albums” and select the album you want to leave. Click on more and go into options and click on the “Leave album” button to leave the unwanted album. 

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● Blocking unwanted users:

If you think another Google Photos user might pose a privacy risk to you you can block the unwanted user to keep your account safe. Simply open Google Photos and click on the album that the unwanted person is in. Click on more and then select options to see the list of users. Once you find the person you want to block click on more next to the user’s name and select “Block person” to finish blocking an unwanted individual.

How can you get information removed from Google Photos?

Deleting your Google Photos is easy all you have to do is go to the Google photos app and select all of the albums in your Google Photos account. Next, simply tap on the bin icon to delete all of your data from Google Photos. If you don’t have albums and have individual photos instead you can select all the photos and videos and then select the delete icon to delete all of your photos and videos.  

How can you find out what information Google Photos has about you?

All of your Google Photos data is available for access in your Google Photos account and it is arranged in a timeline format. You can also search for individual images using a related keyword to access a specific photo or video. All you have to do is log into your Google Photos account using a desktop browser or your Google Photos mobile app.

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Does Google Photos tell you who they share your information with?

Being owned by Google all of your Google Photos data is governed according to Google’s privacy policy. And Google states in their privacy policy that user data collected from all of their services including Google Photos is shared with the following third parties:

● Service providers:

Google employs third-party service providers to carry out or certain functions on behalf of Google. These third parties may include financial service providers customer support, and other similar companies or vendors. Google has to share certain user information with these service providers to facilitate their functions.

● Google affiliates:

Google Photos is a part of Google services and all of the companies within Google family share user data with each other.

● Legal entities:

In case Google is required by law it might share user data with the court or law enforcement.

Does Google Photos remove user information from third parties?

Google shares user data with service providers and affiliates under its privacy policy. And since the shared data is covered by Google’s privacy policy even while it is stored with third parties Google can get the shared data removed at the request of the user. But legal entities and courts aren’t governed by the privacy policy of Google so any data shared with law enforcement can not be deleted by Google.