Google tracks your movements, even if you tell it not to

AP
San Francisco, CA, USA Published: Aug 14, 2018, 12:38 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

Google wants to know where you go so badly that it records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to.

An Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you've used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.

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

For the most part, Google is upfront about asking permission to use your location information.

An app like Google Maps will remind you to allow access to location if you use it for navigating. If you agree to let it record your location over time, Google Maps will display that history for you in a "timeline" that maps out your daily movements.

Storing your minute-by-minute travels carries privacy risks and has been used by police to determine the location of suspects — such as a warrant that police in Raleigh, North Carolina, served on Google last year to find devices near a murder scene. So the company will let you "pause" a setting called Location History.

Google says that will prevent the company from remembering where you've been. Google's support page on the subject states: "You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored."

That isn't true.

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

"This seems like a pretty clear-cut case of a company saying one thing that they allow users to turn off location tracking and doing a different thing. It's also very significant because of the unique sensitivity of location data in a particular cell phone location data we carry cell phones with us everywhere we go every day. The Supreme Court recognized this just a few months ago on the carpenter case," said Alan Butler, Senior Counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

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