Google clarifies Location History help pages following tracking backlash

18 August, 2018, 11:00 | Author: Sammy Rose
  • Stalker woman peers through keyhole

Google's reasoning for these ever-present tracking services are clear: profit margins.

The search giant revised a help page that erroneously described how its "Location History" setting works. "When you turn off Location History for your Google Account, it's off for all devices associated with that Google Account".

Faced with an outcry that indicated clearly users had been confident that turning off "location history" would actually turn off location history, Google has responded by changing some wording rather than adjusting its actual approach. "View Google settings on your Android device to change this setting". The page now states that this "setting does not affect other location services on your device" and mentions that "some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps".

The change appeared to have been made to Google's website midday Thursday.

'We have been updating the explanatory language about Location History to make it more consistent and clear across our platforms and help centers, ' Google said in a statement to the AP. Click to turn off "Location History" and "Web & App Activity", which will prevent Google from storing location data. The page previously stated that: "You can turn off Location History at any time". Automated searches of the local weather on some Android phones also store the phone's whereabouts.

"Location History is a Google product that is entirely opt in, and users have the controls to edit, delete, or turn it off at any time". But it doesn't fix the underlying confusion Google created by storing location information in multiple ways, he said.

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Many apps including Maps and Chrome continue to store your location even with history disabled.

It does not stop Google's collection of other location markers.

Other Princeton researchers, who confirmed AP's findings, suggest Google's policies may be improper and breaching expectations of privacy.

Google critics complain that even with the rewording, the way location data is stored in multiple locations and controlled by multiple settings is hard to fully understand.

Huge tech companies are under increasing scrutiny over their data practices, following a series of privacy scandals at Facebook and new data-privacy rules recently adopted by the European Union.

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