Google apps track your movements even if location services are turned off claim researchers

According to a press investigation from computer-science researchers at Princeton, Google services on iPhone and Android said to store your location data even if you’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.

Google is upfront about asking permissions when required, it even reminds you to grant permission to use Maps services. However, once you grant permission to record your location over time, Google Maps will display the history for you in a “timeline” that maps out your daily movements. Once you turn off the Location History, Google says that places you go are no longer stored.

However, researchers found out that isn’t true, meaning, even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking for proper permissions. Google said to store a snapshot of your current location even if you merely open the Maps app.

On the other hand, the automatic daily weather updates on your Android phones pinpoint your location roughly. Even the search results that don’t have anything to with your location, pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude and save it to your Google account. These privacy issues affect two billion Android phones and millions of iPhone users worldwide. This is not just a privacy issue, but also a clear violation of a user’s preferences.

The only credible solution to stop Google from saving these location markers is that users can turn off “Web and App Activity” that are enabled by default. These setting stores a variety of information from Google apps and websites to your Google account. When paused, it will prevent activity on any device from being saved to your account. Though you can delete the location markers by hand, it’s a tedious process since you have to select them individually, unless you want to delete all of your stored activity. It also prevents Google from storing information generated by searches and other activity.

A Google spokesperson said:

There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services. We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.