Wed. Jan 22nd, 2020

Google tracks user location regardless of whether the user agrees or not

2 min read

The Associated Press survey found that many Google services on Android and iPhone devices store user location data, even if the user has modified the privacy settings to ask not to do so explicitly.

Princeton’s computer science researchers confirmed the discovery. Google said users could turn off the Location History feature at any time. According to its help page: “You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored. When you turn off Location History for your Google Account, it’s off for all devices associated with that Google Account.” But this is not true, even if the user turns off location history, some Google apps will still record location data with timestamps without asking the user. For example:

  • Google will store a snapshot of the location and time when you opened the Maps app.
  • The daily automatic weather update on your Android phone also roughly pinpoints where your users are.
  • Some location-independent searches, such as “chocolate cookies” or “child science kits,” can also pinpoint the user’s longitude and latitude (accurate to square feet)

In other words, Google deceives users in a sense that violates the user’s privacy. Google’s privacy issues affect billions of Android and iPhone users. In response, Google argues that closing location records prevent Google from adding your activities to the timeline. Also, Google said that to enhance the user experience, they might use a variety of ways to use location information, including Location History, Web, and App Activity and hardware-level location services. To this end, Google provides them with a clear description and strict control. Users can turn them off or on at any time, or even delete their history information.

Some people can’t help but sigh: everything is tracking you. Your smartphone, the operating system of your smartphone, the applications running on the operating system, the back-end services that applications depend on, the operators that use the back-end services, and so on, even feature operators track phones. Of course, even without a mobile phone, there will be many cameras to determine your identity.