We all know that Google tracks us. But what you don’t know is that the search giant will do so even after you’ve told it not to.
Google does give you the option to turn Location History off. Yet according to a recent paper, this act might not have the intended effect of wiping your tracks completely.
An investigation led by researchers at Princeton Universe and reported by the Associated Press revealed that Google services on Android continue to store location data. Regardless of whether you opted out in privacy settings.
Google has its eyes on you, always
The findings were based on work done by postdoctoral researcher Gunes Acar. He carried an Android phone with Location services turned off while traveling through New York, only to discover that Google was still tracking him the entire time.
The Associated Press included an interactive map which pinpoints exactly where he traveled. What’s more, this information was stored in Acar’s Google account.
The conclusion of the research is that Google continues to track you through services like Google Maps, weather apps and even browsing searches, even if you told it not to. While searching online isn’t directly linked to tracking, it can be used to determine your location and save it to your Google account.
In response to the Associated Press article, Google provided the following statement:
“There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services. 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.”
Want to prevent Google from really tracking you? There’s a feature for that, although you might not really know it’s there. And surprise-surprise it’s not Location History.
How to keep Google from tracking you
You’ll need to toggle off the “Web and App Activity” option which is enabled by default. On your Android phone to go to Settings>Google>Google account>Data & personalization. Here’s where you will find the Web and App Activity option. This will actually turn off location tracking for good.
What’s confusing is that Web and App Activity sits right above Location History. This suggests the two are different options. What’s more, Google doesn’t mention anything about a location on the Web and App Activity description saying that it:
“Saves your activity on Google sites and apps to give you faster searches, better recommendations, and more personalized experiences in Maps, Search and other Google services”.
As you can see, it quite hard to determine that something called Web and App Activity is actually in charge of controlling Google’s collection of location data.