Even if you have taken a few of the more obvious steps to reduce Google’s ability to track your location while you’re using your smartphone, it looks like it may not be enough to keep the company from keeping tabs on you.
According to a new report from the Associated Press, Google has a variety of different ways it tracks your location, and simply turning off Location History won’t actually prevent the company from knowing where you are and where you have been. Researchers, and the publication’s own tests, were able to confirm this is the current situation for Android and iOS users.
The Location History feature means you are able to go back and see where you’ve been using Google’s own Timeline feature. 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.
The report indicates that there are still some Google apps that will continue to track your location, simply due to the way they function. Google Maps, for instance, will take a quick snapshot of your location when you open the app. 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.
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”.
“You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.“
If you actually want the apps on your devices to stop tracking you, then you need to turn Location History and another setting called “Web and App Activity” off. That latter setting is enabled by default, and when it’s turned on it will continue to track your location, as well as other important pieces of information, to store on your Google account.
If you want to see how often you’re being tracked, or take action upon those data points, you can do so by visiting myactivity.google.com.
At least it isn’t an endless game of whack-a-mole, where you turn one setting off but only later discover that yet another one is actually still doing the thing you were trying to stop.
What do you think of the AP‘s discovery?