Like it or not, Google tracks your movements


Some of the examples given by the AP include the Google Maps app, which takes a snapshot of your location as soon as you open it and even completely unrelated searches like "chocolate chip cookies" which "pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude" and save it to your Google account.

Researchers at Princeton University in the USA this week confirmed on both Android handhelds and iPhones that even if you go into your smartphone's settings and turn off "location history", Google continues to snoop on your whereabouts and save it to your personal profile. The company has been known to track Google Maps users on iPhone and Android. When Location History is turned off, "places you go are no longer stored", a Google support page says.

Overall, it seems that the primary location-gathering aspect related to "Web & App History" comes from Google searches. AP noted actions like having your Android phone fetch weather updates sends Google a rough idea of your locale. That's the two billion or so who use Android devices plus the hundreds of millions of iPhone users running Google map and search apps.

Computer-science researchers at Princeton recently confirmed these findings.

Jonathan Mayer, the former chief technologist for the Federal Communications Commission's enforcement bureau and a current computer scientist at Princeton, told the AP he believes Google is being dishonest. It also becomes onerous when Google uses the location history you don't want to share to identify your location and deliver better advertising opportunities for companies that want to target people around a particular area.

When paused, it will prevent activity on any device from being saved to your account. That popup states that, when active, the setting 'saves the things you do on Google sites, apps, and services ... and associated information, like location'. Toggling this setting off does not affect Google's ability to pinpoint your location and draw from this data what the company deems necessary to give you more accurate information.

So if you want to turn off location, you need to go Web and App Activity.

General searches that aren't location specific can also use your location and save it to your Google account.

If you've ever suspected that Google is watching your every move even when you explicitly tell it not to, a new investigation has vindicated your suspicions by proving just that.

"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", a Google spokesperson said in a statement to the AP.

Don't believe it? Check your My Activity page on Google, then your Location History. Now tap Web & App Activity and toggle the setting off. This is in spite of the fact that you've previously asked Google not to track your location.

We mentioned privacy-related issues caused by Google's Location History feature before.

The tech giant's ad revenue rose 20 percent past year to $95.4 billion, largely due to location tracking to drive ad revenue.

Google also says location records stored in My Activity are used to target ads.

According to the AP, that text is technically true but somewhat misleading.