Google tracks your location, even when you explicitly ask it not to

Google tracks your movements even if you’ve turned location history off

Android and iPhone users may be under the impression that Google is not tracking their location data if they've turned off "Location History" on their devices.

If you don't want Google to store all of your location data, you'll need to turn off Location History as well as another setting called "Web and App Activity". With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored'.

"If they know you go to McDonald's all the time, you are going to start to see McDonald's ads and those ads are very valuable to Google", says CNET's Roger Cheng.

Google has admitted that its option to "pause" the gathering of your location data doesn't apply to its Maps and Search apps - which will continue to track you even when you specifically choose to halt such monitoring.

Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you merely open its Maps app. Automatic weather updates, and even searches that are not related to specific locations may have "precise latitude and longitude" information saved to the linked Google Account.

Computer-science researchers at Princeton confirmed these findings at the AP's request.

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.

If you want to fully disable location tracking (which, keep in mind, will limit certain apps' location-driven capabilities), you need to disable another setting called Web & App Activity. 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. Some Google apps still automatically collect users' location markers-information it can use to benefit its advertising revenue.

This isn't a barefaced lie; your location data isn't stored in Location History. You can wholesale delete all items in date ranges or by service, but will end up taking out more than just location markers. That popup states that, when active, the setting 'saves the things you do on Google sites, apps, and services ... and associated information, like location'.

There they may turn off Web & App Activity, and Location History.

Turning the location setting on your phone off entirely is a good start, as is using cellular data instead of Wi-Fi whenever possible.

The key to success - and privacy - is to disable the Web & App Activity setting. This is in spite of the fact that you've previously asked Google not to track your location.

As for Shankari, she's most indignant about the opacity of the whole system; "I am not opposed to background location tracking in principle", she clarified.

The news comes at a time when tech companies are in hot water for their mishandling, misappropriation and misbehaviour when it comes to personal data.

The tech giant's ad revenue rose 20 percent previous year to $95.4 billion, largely due to location tracking to drive ad revenue. So, to erase your entire Google footprint, you'll want to go into the "My Activity" page where you can see everything you've done that touches Google services. "To me, it's something people should know", he said.

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