Google spies on you even if you tell it not to

Google Pixel XL

Google has become the subject of an investigation by the Associated Press. The publication is accusing it of tracking user movements even after they’ve explicitly told it not to.

There’s been a huge outcry over user privacy for the past few months ever since the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal erupted. Google hasn’t escaped notice, with many criticizing the way it utilizes the data it’s entrusted with for advertising.

As per the AP, many Google services across Android and iPhone store a person’s location data even if they’ve stopped it from doing so by deactivating Location History. The feature allows Google to map out daily movements in a timeline.

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This is naturally not that appealing to privacy-conscious folks who naturally paused it. However, this doesn’t stop some Google apps from automatically storing time-stamped location data without asking for permission.

For instance, opening Maps automatically triggers a snapshot of where a user is. Searches for random queries like chocolate chip cookies instantly pinpoints an individual’s precise latitude and longitude and stores it in their Google account, even though the question has nothing to do with location.

The report points out that someone who switches off Location History and leaves Web and App Activity on will still be allowing Google to record their location markers, with the only difference being that the company won’t add it to their timeline. This is very misleading and would naturally lead to confusion among people who think they’ve banned the brand from tracking them.

Google Tracking Solution

Google doesn’t think it’s done anything wrong and is asking concerned users to switch off an additional setting called Web and App Activity. It’s switched on by default and stores a vast trove of info about a person’s activities.

You can see all your stored location markers here. You can delete them one by one, but that’ll take you a long time. You can also choose to completely wipe out everything, but that might cause problems with services like the Google Assistant which relies on understanding you better through data.