We told users we track them - Google

Joanna Estrada
August 14, 2018

Alright, Google! But what if users don't want an improved experience?

On Android app, go to Settings, then tap on Google - Google Account - Data & personalization- Web & App activity and toggle it off. Computer scientists at Princeton University confirmed the findings before AP went on to publish its story.

For the most part, Google is upfront about asking permission to use your location information.

As you may or may not have realised by now, Google collects quite an astonishing amount of information on you which it then uses to provide you with more targeted advertising, or to make its searches feel more tailored to you. Privacy-conscious users could opt to turn off Google's "Location History" feature, believing it would completely stop Google from tracking their location.

Google has been up-front about the way the system is used, though the wording when disabling "Location History" in the Activity Controls page may be somewhat misleading. Google said that this feature would be turned off in December of 2017.

- Now go to Google Data and personalisation Location history.

Google says that you can turn off Location History at any time and when you do the places you go are no longer stored.

This doesn't just apply to Android smartphones and tablets, as iPhones and iPads using the Google Maps app are susceptible to the same issue. I've encountered the request on my Android phone when firing up the Maps app, obviously, but perhaps less obviously Search, Weather and other apps want to check your location before responding to your finger prods or queries.

And some searches that have nothing to do with location, like "chocolate chip cookies", or "kids science kits", pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude - accurate to the square foot - and save it to your Google account.

Some items will be grouped in unexpected places, such as topic names, google.com, Search, or Maps.

It was found that another setting other than Location History would need to be turned off to stop the recordings from happening.

"That seems like a pretty straightforward position to have". Google says it is being perfectly clear. 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. That should prevent precise location markers from being stored to your Google account.

If you use Google Maps, adjust your location setting to "While Using" the app; this will prevent the app from accessing your location when it's not active.

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

In brief, if you want to limit Google's checking of your location you thus have to turn off both "Location History" (which only affects the visualisation of your movements on the timeline), and "Web & App Activity". By telling Google not to record your location history, or in other words by telling it not to note down which restaurant, cinema hall, cafe, office complex you are going, you will be able to avoid building a record of your day-to-day movement.

The company collects your location data even when you have turned off Location History across all its services.

The map showed his train commute around NY as well as visits to The High Line park, Chelsea Market, Hell's Kitchen, Central Park and Harlem.

Huge tech companies are under increasing scrutiny over their data practices, following a series of privacy scandals at Facebook and new data-privacy rules recently adopted by the European Union.

"They build advertising information out of data", said Peter Lenz, the senior geospatial analyst at Dstillery, a rival advertising technology company. Unfortunately, most people aren't looking for it, and they shouldn't have to.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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