A recent news report has found that Google will continue to track you even if you decide to opt out of it. Turning off your location history does not prevent the tech giant from being able to track you. An AP investigation was published that documented how Google will continue to access your location (even if you have disabled your location history) every time you open Google Maps, get weather updates or search for items using their browser. This issue will impact all users with an Android or iPhone device that run Google Maps. It is possible to turn this feature off and prevent Google from tracking your whereabouts - and we will explain that later on in this post.
Although you may think that if you have your location turned off it will exempt you from this tracking, this is actually not that case. Many individuals turn off their Location History in hopes of avoiding this exact problem, but the AP report notes that this does not do what users believe it to. Turning off your Location History will only stop Google from storing all the locations that you have viewed. You can still be tracked and have your time-stamped location data stored by other applications on your mobile device. In fact, AP demonstrated how it was still able to track an individual’s home address and daily activities just by accessing their Google Web & App activity.
Google claims that it access location to help improve user experience, either helping them with searches or driving directions. Spokespeople for Google maintain that they are transparent and provide clear explanations for how they are accessing and using user data. However, clearly many people feel misled by Google as it is clear most users believed that turning off their location history would prevent them from being tracked. In fact, this practice may be considered a deception against consumers - something that may be investigated further in the future.
This story is reminiscent of many past controversies involving data storage and collection from users. In the past, Facebook has been at the center of controversy for how they have tracked and shared user data. Not to mention the countless other companies who have been criticized for their lack of transparency in how they collect, store and share user data. In fact, it seems that this will only become more common as we move forward. As our lives become increasingly digitized, it only makes sense that user data and information becomes a more highly sought after and more widely available commodity. It is more important than ever for users to be on high alert and to consider the type of information that is being collected from them whenever they use any application. Proper cybersecurity practices can go a long way in helping to protect everyday individuals and can help keep sensitive and private data secure.
To turn off the actual location tracking of your device, you need to go to the Web & App Activity section in your Google Account. Once you access this section you are able to turn off your Web and App Activity setting which will prevent your location, IP address and other personal information from being shared.
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