Google tracks your location even if you turn off Location History

Alfred Osborne
August 14, 2018

That happened even though she had turned off Google's "location history" setting, which according to the company should prevent it from remembering where a user has been.

Google is watching where you are, even if you specifically instruct it not to record your location on iPhones and Android handsets. Researchers, and the publication's own tests, were able to confirm this is the current situation for Android and iOS users.

On an Android phone, toggling the same setting off lets you know that "places you go with your devices will stop being added to your Location History map".

The report indicates that there are still some Google apps that will continue to track your location, simply due to the way they function. Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking. And Googling "chocolate chip cookies" can send the company precise longitude and latitude information.

After people began getting a bit antsy about how their phones were tracking their every move for the past several years, Google felt a need to respond.

"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 investigation, performed by the Associated Press alongside Princeton University researchers, found that users are being misled by Google's claim that for those who turn off Location History "the places you go are no longer stored". If you turn Location History off, you will receive a message saying "None of your Google apps will be able to store location data in Location History".

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".

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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.

Now we come to the crux of the issue, which is disabling Web & App activity.

"I am not opposed to background location tracking in principle", she said.

In January 2018 it became known that the Location Service was saving a lot of data not related to the location such as the type of movement, Mac addresses, or battery charge levels. I, for example, frequent Google Maps, and had to sanction its usage of my location for navigation purposes.

If you want to go one step further, tap on Manage Timeline at the bottom of the screen.

The Location feature that Google built-into the Android operating system and some of its applications power location-based services such as Google Maps and provide Google with information about a customer's whereabouts.

On the Data & personalization tab, scroll down to activity controls. At a Google Marketing Live summit in July, Google executives unveiled a new tool called "local campaigns" that dynamically uses ads to boost in-person store visits. "To me, it's something people should know", he said.

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