Google Is Probably Tracking You, Even with Location Turned Off

Google Web & App Activity Feature

When disabled, Google says that that will prevent the company from "remembering" where you've been.

Storing minute by minute travels includes Police have used privacy risks and the same for determining the location of the suspects.

"Location History is a Google product that is entirely opt in, and users have the controls to edit, delete, or turn it off at any time", the company said in a statement to Bloomberg.

But even if turning "Location History" off won't stop Google from tracking you, there's a way to do that and it involves disabling "Web & App Activity" tracking as well. Google ad revenue a year ago rose to $95.4 billion and a big driver of this is location-aware tracking. Instead, Google tells its users that this feature "saves your activity on Google sites and apps to give you faster searches, better recommendations, and more personalized experiences in Maps, Search, and other Google services". It remains to be seen how Google will handle the future of their tracking policies. On Android, the popup explains that "places you go with your devices will stop being added to your Location History map".

Jonathan Mayer, a Princeton computer scientist, told the AP that Google's privacy settings should be made clearer.

Warnings when you're about to turn Location History off via Android and iPhone device settings are more hard to interpret. Even until Apple unveiled iOS 6 in 2012, the company relied on Google Maps. This is the setting that needs to be turned off as well in order to stop Google from pinging GPS-specific locations every time you use Maps or Search. In other words, while companies like Google will handle consumer data, they should only be custodians of this digital information. Now go to Settings. Sign into Google if you haven't already. Under Settings Safari Search Engine, you can find other options like Bing or DuckDuckGo.


Want to prevent Google from really tracking you?

Go to the drop-down menu and tap on "Activity Controls" and turn off both "Web & App Activity" and the "Location History". He had one of his postdoctoral researchers, Gunes Acar, carry their phone around New York City with Location History paused, and has uploaded a map of the activity that was recorded.

It's simple enough, according to a Google support page: "You can turn off Location History at any time". Users can supposedly simply turn off Location history if they don't want their locations stored by Google.

On the page myactivity.google.com, look for any entry that has a location pin icon beside Details. To make matters worse, Android phones still collect your location data from nearby cell towers and send it to Google, even if you toggle off location services and take out your SIM card.

"Users wishing their location be kept private indicate this preference through the "Location history" setting". "When it comes to information privacy, we need to start asking a different set of questions, such as: What data may legitimately be collected?" Only a handful of users will ever bother to dig so deep into their account settings, let along switch off services that seem suspicious.

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