Android Still Tracking Users With Location History Turned Off

According to Google’s support page on the matter, disabling your phone’s “Location History” in your phone’s privacy settings will prevent Google from tracking every move you make.

The support page reads as follows:

“You can turn off Location History at any time.  With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”

That doesn’t leave much in the way of wiggle room.  A pity it’s not even close to being true.

A new investigation conducted by the Associated Press reveals that even with your Location History turned off, some Google Apps are designed so that they automatically store time-stamped location data on users, without asking their permission.

The AP report on the matter explains in further detail:

“…for example, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you merely open its Maps app.  Automatic daily weather updates on Android phones pinpoint roughly where you are, and some searchers that have nothing to do with location, like “chocolate chip cookies,” or “kids science kits,” pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude – accurate to the square foot – and save it to your Google account.”

To demonstrate their claim, the AP created a map of the movements of Gunes Acar, who carried his Android phone with “Location History” switched off in a bid to prevent his location data from being collected.

Despite taking this step, the AP researchers were able to produce a map of his train commute on a pair of trips to New York and visits to the High Line park, Chelsea Market, Hell’s Kitchen, Central Park, and Harlem.  The team also discovered his home address in this manner, but in a bid to protect the professor’s privacy, they did not publish that information on the map tracing the routes mentioned above.

At this point, Google has not responded to the AP’s research.

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