Google still tracks your location even when you turn off Location History

Ceria Alfonso
Agosto 19, 2018

The unexpected Google location-tracking behavior on Android and iOS devices was revealed by an Associated Press (AP) investigation and confirmed by computer science researchers at Princeton University.

How did you find the journalists of the Associated Press, a double interpretation of its own privacy policy allowing Google to freely monitor the users, even if they are manually turned off location-based tracking, reports the Chronicle.info with reference on Portatile.

In most cases, Google first asks for permission to know where someone is located. I, for example, frequent Google Maps, and had to sanction its usage of my location for navigation purposes.

However, Google's apps don't just access your real-time location - they also store your location history, recording your every move. Beneath that option, you will then see Location History, turn that off too. This privacy issue could affect users of up to 2 billion Android and Apple devices.

Google told AP that it uses Location History, Web and App Activity, and device-level location services to "improve people's location experience" and said it provides descriptions and controls to turn them off. You can not turn off Google Play services, which supplies your location to other apps if you leave that service on.

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. And when someone pauses location services, under the "Location History" option, it decreases the data collection but doesn't stop it. But if you value your privacy, this should help you get a bit of it back. Previous year saw 31 million Android users' personal data exposed due to an insecure keyboard app. As it's a Google OS, you can't turn off Google Play Services.

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On Android app, go to Settings, then tap on Google - Google Account - Data & personalization- Web & App activity and toggle it off. While Google says this data is helpful for certain services (like Google Assistant) and aids advertisers, these up-to-the-second time stamps could also allow cyberstalkers or law enforcement the ability to craft a timeline of user daily activity.

A new report shows that Google is tracking your movements, even if you have disabled location tracking in your settings.

"Web & App activity" is enabled by default and mentions nothing about location data. Google's support page on the subject states: "You can turn off Location History at any time".

From here you can control which things Google stores and which things it can't, including of course "Location History". You can turn location off while browsing by going to Settings - Privacy - Location Services - Safari Websites, and turn this to "Never".

So if you are deeply affected by this and want a solution, here is how you can stop Google tracking you. Unfortunately, most people aren't looking for it, and they shouldn't have to. That should prevent precise location markers from being stored to your Google account.

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