How to Stop Google from Tracking Your Location

How to Stop Google from Tracking Your Location

Princeton postdoctoral researcher Gunes Acar carried an Android phone while traveling through NY and New Jersey with location services turned off, only to see that Google was tracking his location the entire time. The AP is confused, like so many of us, about the painful amount of freedom and anonymity we gave up long, long ago, that we should rightfully get back if only our governments would do anything about it, but here we go again.

After all, the Google support page says, "With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored". Storing your minute-by-minute travel history.

Google, for its part, noted in a statement to the AP that it has several different ways to track and use a user's location to "improve people's experience". If you want to stop Google from tracking you nearly completely (for reasons I will explain below, you may not be able to stop every single instance of this), follow the two-step process below.

Google has admitted that its option to "pause" the gathering of your location data doesn't apply to its Maps and Search apps - which will continue to track you even when you specifically choose to halt such monitoring.

As always, it's arguable whether Google is making the terms of this bargain explicit enough for us to make informed decisions about whether to opt in or out. This is how Google marks your location when you deny it explicit permission to use the Maps app.

Google is morphing into the helicopter parent we'd always feared it would; its location tracking persists even when users have explicitly told it not to, discovers AP News.

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Of course, there's no reason to assume that works either since Google makes no mention of turning off location when you "pause" web and app activity.

The issue was first brought to attention by K. Shankari, a graduate researcher at UC Berkeley.

A researcher at UC Berkeley noticed something odd when she had Location History disabled.

"They build advertising information out of data", said Peter Lenz, the senior geospatial analyst at Dstillery, a rival advertising technology company. Location History settings seem to only pertain to the actual logging of this location data on the phone for easy user access, the ability to view a timeline of precisely where you've been.

There would appear to be a privacy concern there, considering some people might not like to know that their every movement is being tracked by a very big tech company. "More data for them presumably means more profit". Check out our overview of Google's Activity Controls here. You're good to go. 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.

Sean O'Brien, a Yale Privacy Lab researcher with whom the AP shared its findings, said it is "disingenuous" for Google to continuously record these locations even when users disable Location History. "For example, you may stop seeing helpful recommendations based on the apps and sites you use".

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