Experts tell how to get rid of "spy" Google

19 August, 2018, 19:45 | Author: Sammy Rose
  • Irish Independent Technology editor Adrian Weckler at the Dublin Information SEC2017 seminar in the RDS Concert Hall

The investigation was carried out the Associated Press and confirmed by computer science researchers at Princeton, and found that Google was able to track user locations even when Location Services were turned off. For example, how is Google Maps supposed to give you step-by-step directions if it doesn't know where you are? If allowed, Google apps will track your movements and save them to your account under your Location History.

The argument is that turning off a feature called "Location History" should eliminate Google from following your location no matter what, but according to a representative from the company, that's not necessarily the case.

Apps such as Google Maps ask for permission when using location information for tasks including navigation. The AP created a visual map showing tracked location data from its investigation.

The privacy issue affects some two billion users of devices that run Google's Android operating software and hundreds of millions of worldwide iPhone users who rely on Google for maps or search.

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 Service.

In an email to the AP, Google said it provides "clear descriptions" and "robust controls" for people to navigate and delete their location history. The Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year exposed how data can be surreptitiously filched and used for purposes users never agreed to.

For a global conglomerate like Google, "no" doesn't necessarily mean "no" when it comes to tracking user locations.

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This isn't a barefaced lie; your location data isn't stored in Location History.

Ready to start taking privacy more seriously?

Alphabet Inc.'s Google could find itself under fresh regulatory scrutiny after a report that it collects location data for certain apps even if users turn off location history on their devices. This is done through a feature called Web and App Activity, which is separate from Location History. There should be a single, unified button that completely - completely- stops Google from collecting users' location. Yesterday, a report said that Google tracks smartphones users all the time, even when they have turned off the location tracking.

To make things worse, the "Web and App Activity" tab makes no direct reference to stored location history.

On the company support page, Google states users can switch off location services for any of its services at any time, though this would obviously impact the performance of some. You'll see several types of activity tracking with on/off sliders, and "Location History" would appear to be the obvious setting to go with if you want Google to stop remembering the times it has creepily followed your movements around the world.

And frustratingly, anyone who wants to delete the location data that's stored by Google will find that it's a long and almost impossible task. With this, users can now be more specific about the story they are looking for or want to listen.

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