Google tracks your movements, like it or not

14 August, 2018, 02:56 | Author: Patty Hardy
  • Google tracks your movements even if you’ve turned location history off

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. While you might have assumed turning that off would disable Google location-tracking across all its services, that isn't the case.

Read on to discover why Google tracks its users even when it's been denied permission to do so, and how this insidious practice went under the radar for so long.

Pausing Web & App Activity, and Location History seems to be the only way that prevents Google from recording location-based information.

The Verge received a similar statement, but one that says "we make sure Location History users know that when they disable the product, we continue to use location to improve the Google experience when they do things like perform a Google search or use Google for driving directions". I spent a lot of time digging through my history today and came away fairly unconcerned about the data Google had collected through my search history.

Jonathan Mayer, the former chief technologist for the Federal Communications Commission's enforcement bureau and a current computer scientist at Princeton, told the AP he believes Google is being dishonest. For starters, you'll definitely want to disable the Location History feature.

Google, however, says it has been clear.

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There they may turn off Web & App Activity, and Location History. It also becomes onerous when Google uses the location history you don't want to share to identify your location and deliver better advertising opportunities for companies that want to target people around a particular area.

Computer science researchers at Princeton looked over the AP's findings at its request and confirmed the results.

General searches that aren't location specific can also use your location and save it to your Google account. This setting, turned on by default, controls various options for apps and services connected to your Google account. On Android, the popup explains that "places you go with your devices will stop being added to your Location History map".

The iPhone text is technically true if potentially misleading. It is, however, stored in a section of your account called My Activity.

The tech giant's ad revenue rose 20 percent past year to $95.4 billion, largely due to location tracking to drive ad revenue. At a Google Marketing Live summit in July, Google executives unveiled a new tool called "local campaigns" that dynamically uses ads to boost in-person store visits. "Keep in mind this changes how Google personalizes for you, however, so some people may want to leave this on for convenience".

Sean O'Brien, a Yale Privacy Lab researcher with whom the AP shared its findings, said it is "disingenuous" for Google to continuously record these locations even when users disable Location History. But I know some of you are, so hopefully this will help.


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