You may think you’ve turned Google’s location tracking history off, but according to a new Associated Press report released today, you might be wrong.
The AP, working alongside Princeton researchers, found that services such as Google Maps and Google’s search engine records users’ location information without their permission.
The issue comes in how you turn the tracking off. While tracking can be turned off in the “Location Services” section of Settings, it also has to be turned off in the “Web and App Activity” settings in order to totally prevent Google from tracking where you are.
To delete your past location history from Google, go to this webpage myactivity.google.com. On the left side of the page, you can select Item View to look at what’s been tracked about you by specific product. Select Maps from the list to see map-specific data. Click on the hamburger icon (the three dots stacked on top of each other at the top left) from the Search bar and choose More, followed by “Delete results” to get rid of everything.
And if you want to prevent Google from tracking you in the future, make sure you have tracking turned off in both the “Location Services” and “Web App and Activity” sections of settings going forward.
Keep in mind, that there are some positives to the tracking. When Google doesn’t know where you are, it can’t offer location-specific recommendations. For instance, if you’re searching for a Chinese food restaurant, you’re going to get results from everywhere, not ones close to your area. And Google Assistant won’t be able to handle location-specific questions such as “What’s the weather?”
And as long as you’re using a web-connected device, you’re always going to be tracked to some extent. Our mobile phones connect to towers to send data, towers that are going to let your carrier know where you are, whether you want it to or not.