Don't tell your AI anything personal, Google warns in new Gemini privacy notice

AI apps like Gemini come with a risk, which Google's new privacy warning illustrates perfectly. Here's the information Google is collecting.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Gemini AI chatbot
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

The Gemini app, formerly known as Bard, is poised to become the next-generation digital assistant on Android devices. This new AI-centric landscape promises to make interacting with your smartphones and other devices considerably smarter and easier.

But those AI apps come with a risk, which Google's new privacy warning illustrates perfectly.

Also: The 3 biggest risks from generative AI - and how to deal with them

This warning comes by way of the Gemini Apps Privacy Hub and states -- very clearly -- that when you interact with Gemini applications, Google collects the following information:

  • Conversations
  • Location
  • Feedback
  • Usage information

Google goes on to state that the collected information helps them provide, improve, and develop products, services, and machine learning technologies.

It's that first bullet point that should be of some concern. Who has access to your Gemini conversations? Google has this to say:

We take your privacy seriously, and we do not sell your personal information to anyone. To help Gemini improve while protecting your privacy, we select a subset of conversations and use automated tools to help remove user-identifying information (such as email addresses and phone numbers).

As for the warning, in the section labeled Your data and Gemini Apps, you'll find the following sentence:

Please don't enter confidential information in your conversations or any data you wouldn't want a reviewer to see or Google to use to improve our products, services, and machine-learning technologies.

Also: What is Google's Gemini AI tool (formerly Bard)? Everything you need to know

Well below that statement, you'll find information on how long reviewed data is retained, which Google states:

Gemini Apps conversations that have been reviewed by human reviewers are not deleted when you delete your Gemini Apps activity because they are kept separately and are not connected to your Google Account. Instead, they are retained for up to three years.

Three years. That's how long your conversations will be retained, even after you delete your activity from the Gemini app. Google continues with the warning: "Even when Gemini Apps Activity is off, your conversations will be saved with your account for up to 72 hours. This lets Google provide the service and process any feedback. This activity won't appear in your Gemini Apps Activity."

What does it all mean? Simply stated, you should definitely heed Google's warning and never include sensitive information in your Gemini interactions. Ever. 

Also: The ethics of generative AI: How we can harness this powerful technology

This new warning makes it very clear that Google not only strongly indicates you should not add sensitive information to Gemini interactions but that every "chat" you have with the app will be retained on the Google servers for three years. One of the last statements made in the warning is:

Don't enter anything you wouldn't want a human reviewer to see or Google to use.

Ominous? You decide.

Editorial standards