Through their VP of Product Management, Google has announced they will delete Gmail account details that have not been active for at least 2 years. This policy change was made known on the 16th of May.
The implementation of this policy which is slated to be in December will mandate the period of inactivity for all Google accounts to be within the 2 years range.
Google highlighted that they are doing this to protect other active accounts from being compromised through these inactive accounts. Once the tech giant deletes a Google account, it will affect its usage across multiple services such as Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Meet, Drive, Google Photos, and YouTube.
Why is Google Deleting Accounts
While briefing their users with a blog post, Google highlighted some reasons behind their decision for the Gmail account deletion policy. First, Google noted that when an account created on its platform hasn't been used for a long time, it becomes effortless for hackers to steal data from it. There are some reasons these accounts become easy to compromise.
Google stated that these Gmail account details, such as passwords, are often old and overused. Hence, it is often easy for cybercriminals to have their way inside these accounts. Also, many inactive accounts don't have their multi-factor authentication turned on. And since it is not active, Google won't help to suggest some security checks and recommendations.
"Our internal analysis shows abandoned accounts are at least 10x less likely than active accounts to have 2-step verification set up. These accounts are often vulnerable, and once an account is compromised, it can be used for anything from identity theft to a vector for unwanted or even malicious content, like spam," Google stated.
What is Google Doing With These Inactive Accounts?
Google said they had ultimately decided to delete accounts not used for at least 2 years. The company will delete any account that falls within this category at the end of the year. Google said this would help reduce the tendency of other accounts to be compromised.
Once these accounts are deleted, they won't be used anymore for any Google services. Services such as Google Workspace (Gmail, Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar) and Google Photos will be removed from such accounts.
However, Google has reiterated that these policies will not affect organizational or business accounts. Google's reason was that companies and organizations such as schools might still have sensitive information they might need in the long run.
"The policy only applies to personal Google accounts and will not affect accounts for organizations like schools or businesses. This update aligns our policy with industry standards around retention and account deletion and limits how much time Google retains your unused personal information," Google said.
Google already has a laid-out plan for this account deletion. They stated that everything regarding this decision would kickstart in December 2023. Google also said they would send multiple emails for several months before they delete any account. "Before deleting an account, we will send multiple notifications over the months leading up to deletion to both the account email address and the recovery email (if one has been provided)," they added.