You might have assumed that turning off Google’s Location History option meant that Google is no longer tracking your movements. But the reality is different. It turns out Google may still be tracking your movements. Google collects your location data and tracks you on a minute-by-minute basis, remembering your home address, and other places you have visited throughout the day.
When using service like Google Maps, Google will ask you to permit access to your iPhone or Android phone’s location data. When you agree to this request – you are allowing Google Maps to record your location history, and display your location history on a timeline. So that you can see your daily travels.
On Google Support Page, it is mentioned that –
“You can turn off location history at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”
But as the AP investigation discovered – it is not true. Google still tracks you. Though there is a way to get Google to actually stop tracking you. You can dig through settings to turn off “Web and App activity.” Web and App activity is enabled by default. After turning off Google will not be able to store a snapshot of where you’ve been. Google will not be able to gather your location information from maps data and browser searches that pinpoint your exact GPS coordinates.
There can be a privacy concern here. Some people might not like to know that their every movement is being tracked by a gigantic tech company.
However, Google’s stance is that Location History’s purpose and functionality is clearly spelled out to users. A Google Spokesperson said –
“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.”
In defense, Google also mentioned that you can delete your location data by heading into myactivity.google.com. You can also delete batches of entries sorted by date or web service. Google also said that location records stored in My Activity are used to target ads.
This is not the first time we’ve heard of Google tracking your location regardless of whether you have location services turned on.
Last November, Quartz also reported that Android phones still collect your location data from nearby cell towers and send it to Google. Even if you toggle off location services and take out your SIM card. It is still unclear whether Google will do anything about this finding from the AP or not.