Report: Google tracks users even with location history turned off


Google continues to store users’ location data even on phones that have privacy settings set to prevent that kind of tracking, according to an Associated Press report released Monday

The AP, along with Princeton University researchers, found that Google services such as Google Maps and the Google search engine record Android and iPhone users’ locations without their permission.

The study found that despite the company saying, “With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored” some apps still timestamp user locations without asking.


In order to fully turn off location tracking, users must adjust settings in “web and app activity,” not only “location services,” and even then it is difficult to prevent the phone from recording users’ whereabouts, according to the report.

Google last year faced scrutiny over a similar issue when reports emerged that the tech giant had been collecting Android users’ location data using the addresses of nearby cellphone towers. Google said in a statement they would halt the practice by November 2017. 

Google says tracking users’ locations helps it to target geographically-specific ads.

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’re going to allow users to turn off something called ‘Location History,’ then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off,” Mayer said. “That seems like a pretty straightforward position to have.”

Tags Android Google IPhone location services user tracking
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