Google Is Tracking Your Location-Even Without Your Permission, Report Says

Google tracks your movements even if you’ve turned location history off

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.

Google continues to store users' location data even on phones that have privacy settings set to prevent that kind of tracking, according to an Associated Press report released Monday. AP's findings suggest that when you tell Google to turn off location tracking, it's only stopping the display of location markers in your apps. According to Google, turning off Location History means that your whereabouts are "no longer stored", but that doesn't actually mean that the company has stopped tracking your location.

Indeed, even when Location History is toggled off in your Google account settings, AP discovered, actions like searching for something in your browser, checking automatic weather updates and opening Google Maps will record your location. And even doing a general search on Google, something like "kids science kits" will track your latitude and longitude, which is then saved to your account. That's the two billion or so who use Android devices plus the hundreds of millions of iPhone users running Google map and search apps. He says that "storing location data in violation of a user's preferences is wrong". Finally, you'll also want to make sure you disable location services on your smartphone for any apps (Google or otherwise) that you don't want to access your location.

"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". Location is just one of them and even if Location is not turned on at all or turned off when it is not used, Google may get location-based data through Web and App Activity, or device-level location services.

When paused, it will prevent activity on any device from being saved to your account.

Why it matters: It is not surprising that Google can and does track Android and iOS users that use its apps such as Maps or Chrome.

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It boiled down to a few basic bullet points: "Google has new tools that let you easily turn off everything it logs about you".

So if you want to turn off location, you need to go Web and App Activity. While the Location History feature may not collect your location, other Google services can.

To stop Google from saving these location markers, the company says, users can turn off another setting, one that does not specifically reference location information.

Don't believe it? Check your My Activity page on Google, then your Location 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". This is, of course, because Maps is not the only app that uses your location history. That can limit the effectiveness of the Google Assistant, the company's digital concierge. "To me, it's something people should know", he said.

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