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Takeout: Controlling Your Personal Data on Google

By Posted on 1 3 m read 242 views

You know how we’d all like to leave footprints on the sands of time? Well, what if I told you that you’re already doing that! Congratulations 🙂


Sooo, privacy and personal data protection have been core areas of interest for me, for a bunch of reasons. The first being that privacy is a constitutionally guaranteed human right (duh.) And also that the principle of data protection is a very important one; one that should not only be recognized by awesome data custodians in Nigeria, but should be enshrined in our laws so that the un-awesome ones would be forced to abide by it.


Before I go on, let’s talk a little about Data Protection. What is it?

Data protection is simply the safekeeping of information. And personal data protection as it relates to the internet and to digital platforms generally entails data custodians (those with whom your data are), employing the best technologies to keep every information that has been gathered about you, safe. Remember when I said that you’re already leaving footprints in the sands of time? Well, there’s pretty much data stored up for everything you do online. From the basic ones you can imagine; pictures you’ve shared, personal information you’ve shared and so on. To the ones you don’t want to imagine; every app you’ve ever downloaded or opened, every website you’ve ever visited and so on.


Personally, I think one of the beautiful components of the principle of data protection is the principle of data ownership. How that apart from the requirement for data custodians to keep data in their care safe and only use it for legitimate reasons and in legitimate ways, these data also belong to the Data Subject. (The data subject is the person whom the data is about).

Therefore, the fact of my visiting so-and-so website on so-and-so day, and the record of it, should belong to me although it’s in the care of *insert data custodian*. The implication of this principle is that, if said data is mine, then I should have control over it. Further implication then is that data custodians should provide access to data in their care to the real owners of the data in order to give them the opportunity to make decisions over it.

And this is possible with a number of multi-national data custodians like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn

For Google, you may use this Google Tool: Google Takeout  (I’m late to the show in just discovering this because it was developed in 2011)

With Takeout you have access to all your google data (pretty much everything you’ve put out or done using Google). I mean, information from your Drive, Chrome, Hangout, Maps, Keep, Photos, Bookmarks, Youtube and so on.

You choose which category of data to download (It might take a while. Mine is 2GB heavy and  is currently still downloading), and then when you see the data, you can decide to purge out the cringe-worthy ones and keep the ones you are proud of.

Google, the company, is on record to have said that it’s better to be transparent about the information being collected as opposed to not showing it at all. And I agree with that.

I’ll do a follow-up article when my data is downloaded and I’ve looked through it and deleted some data. I should also do one for my Facebook data (*shivers*)

But yeah, netizens (I hate this word but it keeps coming to my lips), should not just feel like they are in control of their data but should really be in control of their data. Perhaps there’s the question of whether the deleted data are actually deleted for real real; or the deletion is just faux you to sleep well at night (ha! see what I did there?). I shall do another follow-up article on this. 

I can’t wait for a Data Custodian in Nigeria to take up this initiative. Imagine being given access by 9Mobile to all your calls and texts since you ever started using their network and being allowed to delete some stuff. Or are there already provisions like this in Nigeria? (please let me know in the comment box if there are).

So yeah, I’ll do a follow-up article, as promised.


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1 Comment
  • David Rotimi
    May 18, 2018

    Wow! Awesome!
    I haven’t personally taken data protection seriously, now I will. I also didn’t even know about Google takeout.
    Thank you Adeboro!

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