Google clarifies location-tracking policy

Alfred Osborne
August 19, 2018

"When you turn off Location History for your Google Account, it's off for all devices associated with that Google Account". Although Google has not revealed what does "some location data" really mean, the earlier AP report claimed Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking.

Google has also clarified that some location data may still be saved as part of a user's activity on Google Search and Google Maps.

Yesterday, Google finally opened up about its location tracking policy, and confirmed that it does track your location even when you have not granted permissions for it. It now says that turning off location history does not affect services like Google Location Services and Find My Device.

AP reported this afternoon that Google had updated a page that explained how the Location History setting works.

In a statement to the AP, Google said: "We have been updating the explanatory language about Location History to make it more consistent and clear across our platforms and help centers".

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But just turning off Location History doesn't solve the objective.

"I can't think off the top of my head of any major online service that architected their location privacy settings in a similar way".

Google says it's trying to be clearer about how it tracks users on certain apps. Location history and general location tracking are different from each other, and switching off location history on Google Maps won't by default switch off all location data collection by Google. Google pointed out data can still be deleted.

The AP noted Google is bound by an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that it will not misrepresent to customers how they can protect their privacy. The news agency looked into the matter after K. Shankari, a graduate researcher at the University of California Berkeley blogged about how her Android device had prompted her to rate a recent shopping trip to Kohl's despite her location history function being disabled.

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