Google admits to collecting your Location History even if you disable Location Services

Tracking User Location History
Tracking User Location History

Google has finally admitted that it was collecting location data even when disabled by the user and updated the help pages with details about its location history collection practice.

A few days ago Associated Press reported that Google was collecting user Location History, even after users disabled Location Services. The key, as the Associated Press discovered, is a related option called "Web and App Activity". When this option remains enabled, Google continues tracking your location.

When confronted, Google responded in a vague statement that is a bit less than believable. Google further claimed that it is collecting location histories to improve the user experience.

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 Services. We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.

Now, the search giant has decided to clarify its tracking policy to clear up any confusion and misgivings that users might have had. On its help page that describes how Location History works, Google changed the words to "This setting does not affect other location services on your device". Previously, this page claimed that "with Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored". The page is also changed to point out that "some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps".

When asked by the AP about the quiet change, Google issued the following response.

We have been updating the explanatory language about Location History to make it more consistent and clear across our platforms and help centers.

In other words, Google has not stopped tracking users, but rather they are just cleaning up the language they used to help reduce confusion. This means that disabling tracking in Location History will still result in some of your activities being tracked and that you will need to navigate to "Web and App activity" to disable it completely.



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