Google is tracking your location even when you tell it not to

Google is tracking your location even when you tell it not to

Google is tracking your location even when you tell it not to

It's worth noting that even after you've turned these location features off, Google results still might use your search history to make a guess about where you are. While you might have assumed turning that off would disable Google location-tracking across all its services, that isn't the case.

An investigation carried out by the Associated Press has found that Google is in fact storing Android and iPhone users' location data even when they have chosen privacy settings to prevent the company from doing so. For instance, the iPhone notification "None of your Google apps will be able to store location data in Location History" that appears when Location History is turned off is technically correct.

While Google's statement may be technically correct, the issue is that so numerous company's services track your location, it's virtually impossible for the user to know just how many services they need to disable to regain their privacy.

The Associated Press quotes Google's support pages as saying: "You can turn off Location History at any time". Google added that it's clear in how the features work and allows you to delete your location history "at any time".

The issue comes in how you turn the tracking off.

If you want to fully disable location tracking (which, keep in mind, will limit certain apps' location-driven capabilities), you need to disable another setting called Web & App Activity. A spokesperson for the company said that it provides "clear descriptions" of all the Google tools that people use which may record users' locations. It does not stop Google's collection of other location markers.

"You can see the stored location markers on a page in your Google account at myactivity.google.com, although they're typically scattered under several different headers, many of which are unrelated to location". Shankari, who studies commuting patterns, was left scratching her head when she was asked to rate a shopping trip to Kohl's, despite having switched off her Location History when the trip took place. "When did I agree to this?"; "How does Maps get the location?"; "How does Maps convert the location to a business name?" came a few of her questions on a Berkeley blog post.

"They build advertising information out of data", said Peter Lenz, the senior geospatial analyst at Dstillery, a rival advertising technology company.

If that bothers you, now you can opt out - for real. "For example, you may stop seeing helpful recommendations based on the apps and sites you use". "More data for them presumably means more profit".

Use "App-level permissions" to turn off access to various apps. In particular, neither the Google Assistant, a digital concierge, nor the Google Home smart speaker will be particularly useful. But I know some of you are, so hopefully this will help.

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