How to Delete Your Gmail Account Permanently

Gmail is one of the most used email providers out there. But it also has one of the most controversial business practices when it comes to data and privacy.

And since Gmail has been involved in some privacy scandals, it’s no wonder people are trying to cut ties with the industry giant.

So, if you want to delete your Gmail account, we’ve prepared just the guide for you.

Before you delete your Gmail account

This might not come as a surprise, but Gmail is part of Google, one of the companies that pioneered data mining.

Whenever you use Google’s free services, the company gets vast amounts of information about you, and it uses some of it to better target you with ads. And since advertising accounts for over 70% of Google’s revenue, this practice isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.

If you want to put a stop to invasive practices and delete data-grabbing accounts, Gmail is a good place to start.

Before you begin, you might want to keep a copy of the information you generated. You can export it from the Google products you use, such as your:

        • Email
        • Documents
        • Calendar
        • Photos
        • YouTube videos
        • Registration and account activity

To get your archive:

  1. Go to https://takeout.google.com/
  2. Make sure Gmail is checked on the list of Google products that have your data.
  3. Click on ‘Next Step.’
  4. Choose the file type you want your data saved as and how you want to receive that file.
  5. Select ‘Create export.’
  6. When your archive is ready, Google notifies you. This process could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days.

Now that your information is in your hands, you can go ahead and delete your Gmail account.

How to delete your Gmail account permanently

Even if you delete your Gmail account, Google still has your data. The only consolation is you’ll no longer be feeding the algorithm.

Here’s how you can delete your Gmail account permanently.

  1. Go to your Google Account.
  2. On the left navigation panel, click ‘Data & personalization.’
  3. On the ‘Download, delete, or make a plan for your data panel,’ click ‘Delete a service or your account.’
  4. On the ‘Delete a Google service panel,’ click ‘Delete a service.’
  5. Confirm by typing your password.
  6. Next to ‘Gmail,’ select ‘Delete.’
  7. Follow the steps on the screen.

With this, all your emails and settings will be deleted, and no one else will be able to sign up for your Gmail handle.

However, this doesn’t affect your Google account. That one’s still active, and you can use it to access other services, like Google Play.

Gmail isn’t your ally in the fight for privacy

Trading privacy for convenience has been Google’s M.O. since the beginning. And Gmail is no different.

However, it mostly came under scrutiny when Google admitted its mail servers automatically scan emails to filter spam, weed out malware, and deliver contextual ads.

Over the years, privacy advocates have criticized this advertising practice, but they’ve also highlighted the fact that the company:

        • Has an unlimited data retention period
        • Lets third parties monitor you
        • Combines user information across Google services

The company has also been the subject of lawsuits because of these ever-growing concerns over user privacy.

2004
Thirty-one privacy and civil liberties organizations wrote a letter asking Google to suspend its Gmail service until the privacy issues were adequately addressed. The letter also urged Google representatives to clarify its policies regarding data retention and data sharing among its business units.
2010
Google launched Google Buzz, a now-defunct social network that was linked to Gmail. The platform immediately drew criticism for publicly sharing details of users’ contacts unless the default settings were changed.
2011
Former Gmail user Kelly Michaels of Smith County, Texas, sued Google, claiming that its Gmail service violates users’ privacy by scanning email messages to serve relevant ads.
2012
A few California residents have decided to file two class-action lawsuits against Google and Yahoo in Marin County Superior Court. The suits claim that the company illegally intercepts emails sent from individual non-Gmail and non-Yahoo subscribers to individual Gmail and Yahoo subscribers without their knowledge, consent, or permission. What’s more, they say the interception takes place before the email reaches its intended target.
2014
Gmail launched a new feature, where users can email people with Google+ accounts even though they do not know the recipient’s email address. Marc Rotenberg, President of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, called the feature “troubling”, and compared it to the Google Buzz initial launch privacy flaw.
2014
A federal judge refused to dismiss a potential class-action lawsuit brought by Gmail users who objected to its practice of analyzing the content of all the messages on its network and selling byproducts to advertisers. Those suing Google said it violated federal wiretap laws.
2014
Google denied a security vendor report that Gmail users on Apple iOS could have data intercepted because of a missing security component in the app.
2017
Google announced that it would phase out the scanning of emails to generate contextual advertising and rely on personal data collected through other Google services.
2017
Google’s AI got smarter in recognizing Gmail aliases. When you search for an email address in Gmail, it now shows all emails associated with that specific address and any aliases. These results are pulled from the to, from, cc, and bcc fields or anywhere in the email.

Despite the backlash, Google made its case by claiming that Gmail users should not expect privacy, liking the sentiment to Smith v. Maryland. This 1979 Supreme Court decision upheld the collection of electronic communications without a warrant.

Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their communications are processed by the recipient’s ECS provider in the course of delivery. Indeed, ‘a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.
Google filing

Yikes.

Gmail – the inevitable evil?

This timeline of privacy mishaps is concerning. But unfortunately, Google Business is an attractive enough package that some people have to use Gmail in a professional or academic setting.

And while you won’t be able to mitigate Google’s data-mining practices, there are a few things you can do to lessen the impact Google has on your online privacy.

  1. Do not associate the Gmail account with your personal social media accounts, bank accounts, or gaming accounts.
  2. Do not use Gmail to sign up for any services outside of those required for work or school.
  3. Use a VPN. It’s a great way to improve your digital anonymity and security.
  4. If possible, only use Gmail services on your work phone or laptop. Don’t log in to the services on your personal devices.
  5. Likewise, only use your work phone when activating two-factor authentication (2FA).
  6. Check the permissions Gmail has on mobile devices and adjust them accordingly.
  7. Encrypt your Gmail emails to minimize what third parties can access.
  8. Learn to spot phishing emails to protect your data from scammers and other malicious parties.

While this isn’t 100% foolproof, it’s a start.

 

Do you plan on deleting your Gmail account? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time, stay safe and secure!

Leave a comment

Thank You very much for your great advice. Can you recommend VPN like CYBERGHOST OR EXPRESS VPN. Concerning privacy and security, not the cheapest, which VPN service would you prefer?

Reply

Hi Werner! 👋 Glad to hear you enjoyed reading.

CyberGhost VPN is one of the most accessible, affordable, and reliable VPN services there are. It’s cheap, incredibly easy to use and fantastic for streaming. It also has a strict No Logs policy to protect your online anonymity and browsing activity.

Yes I would like to change email accounts; and understand what you have said. What I need to know, is what emails are protecting privacy? I must have a new one before deleting Gmail. Must send “change of addresses” .

Reply

Hi Janice! This is a bit outside our area of expertise, as we mostly focus on VPN software. In this case, it’s best that you look a bit more into secure email providers and decide whether solutions like Tutanota or Posteo are what’s best for you.

Very interesting and I have been concerned, so working on making changes, and you have been most helpful.

Reply

Hi Janice,
Glad to hear you enjoyed reading. 🙂

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