Google is tracking you even when you say 'Don't'

Even with Location History paused some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking

The main issue that comes out of the new revelation is that most Android users are probably unaware that location information may be saved to their account if they use Google apps or services on the device but have location turned off. The company has been known to track Google Maps users on iPhone and Android. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored'.

Pausing Web & App Activity, and Location History seems to be the only way that prevents Google from recording location-based information.

Some examples of location-data logging the AP points to include Android's automatic weather updates that still track your general location, Google's search engine saving an exact location for each search query to your Google account, and even Google Maps itself snapshotting your location when you open the application. He says that "storing location data in violation of a user's preferences is wrong".

And if you want to turn off web and app activity, you need to go to Google settings - although where precisely it's not clear.

In order to prevent Google's location tracking, users need to disable the opaquely-named "Web and App Activity" setting - but even this is not a ideal solution.

In that web and app activity pop-up: "If your Android usage & diagnostics setting is turned on, your device will still share information with Google, like battery level, how often you use your device and apps, and system errors".

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"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", the company said in a statement to Bloomberg.

A recent AP report suggests that Google can continue tracking users, even after they specifically request it to stop tailing them on Maps. Senior geospatial analyst Peter Lenz, who works at rival ad tech company Dstillery, takes a pretty blunt view of things; speaking to AP News he opined, "They build advertising information out of data [.] More data for them presumably means more profit".

It's a good question and one the Associated Press was eager to look into with the help of computer science researchers at Princeton University.

On Android: Venture into Settings, then tap Google Google Account Data & personalization. But its attempts to do so revealed Google's tracking.

The key to success - and privacy - is to disable the Web & App Activity setting. There the company notes that "some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other Google services, like Search and Maps". Location data is not stored under Location History, it is instead stored under My Activity.

The tech giant's ad revenue rose 20 percent previous year to $95.4 billion, largely due to location tracking to drive ad revenue. Now click Personal info & privacy My Activity, then click Activity controls in the lefthand toolbar. However, as the AP investigation discovered, that isn't exactly true. "To me, it's something people should know", he said.

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