How To Make Google Calendar Private & Who Can See Your Events

Your Google Calendar contains really private information. It tells any reader where and when you’ll be next and potentially why and with whom you’re meeting. Your whole agenda or specific entries become a security risk if made public or leaked. What is the Google Calendar default visibility? 

Your Google Calendar and events are private to you and Google Services by default. You may share individual entries or your entire calendar with other Google accounts or via email. Calendars can be set as public if needed.

Even past entries can be used to derive future appointments before they’re on your calendar. We’ll walk through the best security and privacy settings and a few alternatives to Google Calendar.

Woman editing a calendar on her laptop wondering: is your google calendar public or private

Google Calendar Privacy

Google Calendar privacy differs depending on whether you use it personally or for work.

For Personal Google Calendar Users

How to make google calendar private & who can see your events

Many users have managed their personal calendars and household agendas since July 2009, when Google first released its online calendar. That’s a lot of calendar data accumulated over the years. Generally, if you’ve not poked around inside the default visibility settings, your configurations should be keeping your event details private.

Note: Even though your calendar is set to private, your data is shared with other Google Services.

Cross-service data sharing is a helpful feature with some potential downsides. You’ve likely seen birthdays and anniversaries from your Google Contacts appear in Google Calendar. Or you may have noticed that Google Maps points out destinations based on the location field from Google Calendars.

Google trains its machine learning and artificial intelligence using your data, including your online calendar.

For example, the Events from Gmail feature scans the contents of your emails for restaurant reservations, flight itineraries, etc. The algorithm then adds these to your Google Calendar. While processing this feature, the AI reviews emails for dates like doctor’s appointments, insurance meetings, and scheduled parent-teacher conferences. 

Carefully consider the trade-off of convenience and privacy.

For Google Workspace Calendar Users

How to make google calendar private & who can see your events

Businesses can subscribe to Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), a competitor to Microsoft’s Office applications. For their paying customers, Google states in their privacy FAQ that data put into Google Workspace is not owned or used by Google for any purpose. This implies that Google Workspace Calendar users have better trust that individual and group calendars, along with event details, are handled with more care and privacy.

However, Google Workspace “super administrators” have more control over all the services, including work calendars. The calendar help documentation has a section called “Super administrators have access to all calendars.”

This access makes sense for a business environment where all the data belongs to the organization. In this case, privacy from Google is better, but your calendar privacy is open to other employees with the right access.

Sharing Makes You Less Secure

Google Calendars provide several sharing settings. It’s always best practice to set sharing options to the least amount of information with the fewest number of contacts at the lowest access level necessary. The more information you share, the larger your threat surface or the number of ways an attacker has to get to more of your data.

No Security Or Privacy When Share Over Email

You’re most likely familiar with sharing individual events when you schedule meetings or appointments between attendees. The initial meeting invitation and subsequent updates are usually transmitted over plain-text email.

Email is typically the least-secure communication method. Calendar entries sent across email are not encrypted before being added to the body or as an attachment to an email.

Some email and calendaring services implement secure handling of event sharing. Google Calendar does this well only when the invitation stays within the Google ecosystem.

Entries shared with non-Google email addresses are sent via unencrypted email to those contacts.

Here’s an example of one of my calendar entries I sent over email. What’s the visibility of my bank balance in the below email code? ⬇️ Do you see it?

How to make google calendar private & who can see your events

In addition to my sensitive financial information, you can see the event guests, time, and location of my meeting. If this were a personal calendar entry, my Gmail account and my invited recipients’ Gmail accounts would be snooping on personal matters.

Both the sending and receiving email services must implement secure transmission to protect unencrypted emails; otherwise, any calendar data within an email can be easily read.

In addition to the interception, your shared calendar events might be leaked if your invitees’ account is breached. Your Google Calendar appointment is now copied to their agenda. If you delete the appointment from your calendar, your data and history are now outside your control since there’s no direct link back to your certain events.

We can do better than Google Calendar for privacy and security. I’ve switched away.

What’s An Alternative to Google Calendar For Privacy?

Google Calendar provides a lot of functionality, and fortunately, there are a few alternatives that do much better on the privacy and security front.

I switched to Proton Calendar. I’ve also moved my email, contacts, and drive (file storage), removing this data from Google to keep the most critical parts of my information and scheduling private.

Proton’s Calendar has largely followed much of the capabilities of Google Calendar. When you switch, the features that you’ve come to use are familiar.

The mobile apps work well and are under active development by the team.

Having switched let’s me sleep better, knowing I have complete control of my calendar and the sensitive event data stored.

I’ve listed a few other options for private calendaring on the recommended tools page.

Mike Chu

Mike is a web developer and content writer living as a digital nomad. With more than 20 years of devops experience, he brings his "programmer with people skills" approach to help explain technology to the average user. Check out his full author bio by clicking here.

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