The truth about Google tracking is the fact that it still tracks users' location even when privacy settings are adjusted to shut these features off, according to a newly released report by the Associated Press.
A lot of users are spooked by the idea of Google tracking their every online move, even after you thought you have turned off your location tracking in your Google account. Well, think again. Turns out Google tracks your location even when you think it's not.
Chances are – if you have ever played around on your Google privacy setting – you might have stumbled upon the Location Tracking. However, while the company asks permission for users to share location information on its applications, it does not halt tracking services when users pause Location History according to Associated Press. Switching off the Location History only stops Google from adding your location to its Google Maps Timeline.
Google said that the company does provide clear descriptions of its tools and how to turn them off. But a study verified by researchers at Princeton University has angered US Lawmakers. The study found that users' whereabouts are recorded even when their location history has been disabled. Google still collects location data for all Google users whether you are on Android or iOS – unless you turn them off altogether.
- Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you open the Google Maps app
- Automatic weather updates on Android phones pinpoint roughly a user's whereabouts
- Searches that have nothing to do with location pinpoint precise longitude and latitude of users.
Here is how to lock down your Google account from being tracked:
How to stop Google from tracking your location
Head over to the Activity controls dashboard and turn Web & App Activity off (Google will flash up a warning checking if you want to Pause the Web & App Activity?, simply click Pause in the bottom right to confirm).
As long as the Web & App Activity setting is enabled, Google will store your time-stamped location data. You can manually delete this data by heading into myactivity.google.com and clicking on specific geo-stamped entries. You can also delete batches of entries sorted by date or web service.
When you search for something with Google, for example, it will log precisely where you submitted that query. So how does Google still track your location even when you switched off your Location History?
Google Location services use multiple data sources to work out where you are – Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, mobile signal towers – and combines these in the background to build up a remarkably accurate picture of your movements without you ever expressly using services such as Google Maps.
A Google spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge, “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. As the story notes, 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.”
The only solution at present? Turn off all location services. That’s all well and good, but suddenly your Android phone will feel a whole lot less useful.
Associated Press published a step-by-step guide on how to make sure Google does not track your location, which can be viewed on their website.