Google Records Users’ Locations, Even When Asked Not to

Google location

Another major tech company, another privacy scandal. Can we trust Google location services? A report issued by the Associated Press (AP) has suggested that we can’t.

According to the AP study, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) records users’ locations even when they have asked it not to.

Google Location: Affected

Almost two billion Android and Apple devices use Google for web browsing or for its maps.

The investigation proved that the whereabouts of users are recorded even when ‘Location History’ has been disabled on a device. 

So in short, even if you have your privacy settings set to block your location, Google is still tracking where you are. 

This is the Issue

Google location allows you to disable the previously-mentioned setting called ‘Location History’. When disabled, Google says that that will prevent the company from “remembering” where you’ve been.

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According to its support page on location data: 

“You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.” 

But unfortunately for the two billion Google users, this is false information. Even with Location History disabled, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking. 

Here are some examples:

  • Upon simply opening Maps, Google takes a snapshot of where you are and saves it;
  • Automatic daily weather updates on Android phones pinpoint roughly where you are;
  • And some browser searches—which have nothing to do with location—will pinpoint your exact location and save it to your Google account.

Web & App Activity

What Google is doing has been called “sneaky” by those who did the study.

The issue lies in a secondary function that must be disabled—the ‘Web & App Activity’ setting. This must be disabled alongside the ‘Location History’ setting if you don’t want Google to save your location markers.

Of course, most users would not know this or make this connection as Google states nothing about the ‘Web & App Activity’ relating to location saving.

‘Web & App activity’ is enabled by default and mentions nothing about location data.

As security researcher Graham Cluley put it:

“You would think that telling Google that you didn’t want your location to be tracked by disabling an option called “Location History” would stop the internet giant from storing data about your location […] It seems pretty sneaky to me that Google continues to store location data, unless you both disable ‘Location history’ and ‘Web & App Activity.'”

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Google Stock

Despite the revelation, Google stock is performing well today:

Google location
Source: Google Finance. Google Stock Today

But I wonder will it remain in the green throughout the week? What do you think? Are you surprised or is this almost expected from Google?

Featured Image: Deposit Images/StudioIcon