With the recent scare over Facebook’s information tracking, it can be difficult to feel isolated in such a connected world. To make matter’s worse, recent news broker that Google can still track users even when their Location History is turned off.
While many people understand that Google tracks while Location History is turned on, simply turning the switch off was thought to solve the problem. A recent AP investigation is revealing that this isn’t the case.
The report suggests that any iPhone or Android user who has Google Maps running on their device is at risk for being tracked. This totals to around 2 billion people in the world who may be tracked without their knowledge.
Even with Location History switched off, Google can still see where people are located through a few methods. The list includes opening Google Maps for any reason, searching certain things on the browser and even some automatic weather updates can reveal a person’s location.
This AP report raises more privacy and security questions surrounding the information that major companies such as Google have access to. The report has been verified by Princeton University and is now closely being examined.
When turning ‘off’ the Location History, Google says “the places you go are no longer stored. When you turn off Location History for your Google Account, it’s off for all devices associated with that Google Account”.
The recent AP report has suggested the exact opposite of what Google had originally claimed. This is leading many people to question how else Google may be tracking users. The report continued by saying that turning off the Location History only keeps users from seeing a timeline of where they have been. The report raises some significant questions about whether or not this information is still available to Google.
During the investigation, Princeton researcher’s home address and daily route were able to be tracked by the AP. According to Alan Butler, senior council at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, “that seems like textbook deception”. It remains to be seen how Google will handle the future of their tracking policies.
For those hoping to hide from Google’s tracking algorithm, they have provided a more accurate solution. Hidden deep within a Google Account is an option labeled Web & App activity. Google separates Location History from this option despite their tracking results being quite similar. By ticking the Web & App activity toggle to ‘off’, users can successfully escape being tracked by Google.