Like most of you out there, I thought Google stopped tracking me once I turned off Location Services on my Android, something I do more because of my battery than for privacy reasons. Boy were we wrong! According to an AP investigation published Monday, even if you disable Location History, the search giant still tracks you every time you open Google Maps, get certain automatic weather updates, or search for things in your browser. Creepy stuff huh? Luckily, there is a way to fix this. But there is a catch, albeit a small one; it takes quite some digging to do this.
This affects upto 2 Billion people on both iOS and Android. This is anyone with an Android phone or iPhone running Google Maps on their devices.
How to truely turn off Google Location services.
To really turn off location tracking, Google says you have to navigate to a setting buried deep in your Google Account called Web & App Activity, which is set by default to share your information, including not just location but IP address and more. Finding that setting isn’t easy. At all.
- Open “settings” on your Android device, or the Google Maps app on your iOS device and navigate to the app’s settings.
- Search for “location” under “data & personalization” on Android, and “location settings” on iOS.
- Select to turn off location history for your account and/or your devices.
- Visit the “activity controls” page for your Google account.
- Switch “web and app activity” off. This will prevent information, including location data, on any devices from being saved to your account.
Google does not indicate anywhere the notion that Web & App Activity has anything to do with location. In fact, the setting sits right above the Location History option, suggesting at a glance that the two things are quite distinct. And Google’s vanilla description of Web & App Activity is that it “Saves your activity on Google sites and apps to give you faster searches, better recommendations, and more personalized experiences in Maps, Search, and other Google services.” From there, you have to tap Learn more, then scroll to What’s saved as Web & App Activity, and tap again on Info about your searches & more before Google says anything about location whatsoever.