Disabling Location History Doesn’t Stop Google From Tracking Your Location

Disabling Location History Doesn’t Stop Google From Tracking Your Location

An Associated Press investigation has found that Google tracks geographical location on smartphones even after it might appear the user has explicitly opted out. While you might have assumed turning that off would disable Google location-tracking across all its services, that isn't the case.

The Location History feature means you are able to go back and see where you've been using Google's own Timeline feature.

That may seem contradictory, however, Google assured the Associated Press that it is all fine and above-board because the small print says the search biz will keep tracking you regardless. 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. He says that "storing location data in violation of a user's preferences is wrong".

Google's location tracking has always been a controversial subject.

A Google spokesperson argued that the company is "perfectly clear" regarding its tracking policies and how to turn off services.

To prevent Google from saving location data from all of those tools, the company said users can turn off a setting called "Web and App Activity" - but since this setting is turned on by default, many people don't know about it and assume that when they turn "Location History" off, it will be off across all of their apps.

There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people's experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services. According to Google's support page for the feature, "When Web & App Activity is on, Google saves information like. your location, language, IP address, referrer and whether you use a browser or an app".

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Peter Lenz, a senior geospatial analyst at advertising technology company Dstillery said that Google's obsession with tracking user locations is all to do with advertising revenue.

The company continues to turn user data into profit with a program implemented in 2014, allowing advertisers to track online ads' effectiveness at driving foot traffic.

Computer-science researchers at Princeton confirmed these findings at the AP's request.

On Android: Venture into Settings, then tap Google Google Account Data & personalization.

Interestingly, Google isn't skirting its tracking. You're good to go. Instead, it just tells you why that's a bad idea: "Pausing additional Web & App Activity may limit or disable more personalized experiences across Google services". With Location History off, Google Maps and other apps store your whereabouts in a section of your account called "My Activity", not "Location History".

On the Data & personalization tab, scroll down to activity controls.

While disabling "Web & App Activity" will stop Google from storing location markers, it also prevents Google from storing information generated by searches and other activity. However, as the AP investigation discovered, that isn't exactly true. But I know some of you are, so hopefully this will help.

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