Google may track your location even if you disable Location tracking

Isaac Cain
August 14, 2018

A report from the Associated Press in conjunction with university researchers confirmed that Google would continue to track users, despite being explicitly told not to save such data.

A recent AP report suggests that Google can continue tracking users, even after they specifically request it to stop tailing them on Maps.

Besides, in the pop-up explanation that appears in order to make you confirm that you want your location data turned off, Google is entirely upfront when it says, in the second paragraph: "This setting does not affect other location services on your device, like Google Location Services and Find My Device".

The new investigation comes a month after House Republicans sent a letter to Larry Page, the chief executive of Google's parent company, Alphabet, as well as Apple CEO Tim Cook, about their privacy practices, including location tracking. Some Google apps still automatically collect users' location markers-information it can use to benefit its advertising revenue.

While the company asks permission for users to share location information on its applications, it doesn't halt tracking services when users pause Location History, according to the AP.

'We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time'. When a user turns off Location History on an iPhone, a notification says, "None of your Google apps will be able to store location data in Location History".

Users can delete stored location markers by hand, but each one has to be selected and deleted individually - unless you want to delete all of your stored activity - making it a time-consuming process.

On desktop (also for iOS): Open Google in a new tab, sign into your account if you're not already signed in, click your profile picture (upper-right corner) and then click Google Account.

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"You can turn off Location History at any time".

If that bothers you, now you can opt out - for real.

The problem lies with "Web & App Activity" setting, which is on by default, and "stores a variety of information from Google apps and websites to your Google account".

Credit: Marshall Honorof/Tom's GuideWeb & App Activity will be the first option you see.

If you do consent to your location being mapped, Google will create a "timeline" of your daily movements.

Now You: Is location-based tracking turned on or off on your devices? With Location History off, Google Maps and other apps store your whereabouts in a section of your account called "My Activity", not "Location History".

See, there you go. It is, however, stored in a section of your account called My Activity. That can limit the effectiveness of the Google Assistant, the company's digital concierge. The AP says it was compelled to conduct the investigation having been contacted by someone who was prompted by her Android phone to rate a shopping trip to Kohl's she has undertaken, even though location data was disabled and Google should not have been aware of where she was. That also means that Maps won't know where you are when you look for directions in a browser.

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