Google Maps services on Android and iPhone devices store records of a user’s location even after they have enabled privacy settings that claim to halt the practice, according to a new report.
Disabling ‘Location History’ in the settings of Google apps should stop the company keeping track of your movements. However, according to an Associated Press investigation, the search company is still keeping tabs on users’ location.
The problem relates to the fact that the “location history” button appears to be switching off all location tracking. In fact, it only turns off the location tracking for one specific feature, and Google will keep tracking users around.
So while switching that location history button off will stop the feature called “Your Timeline” from working, ads and other services provided by Google will still need to know where you are.
The investigation found, for example:
• Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you open its Maps app
• Automatic daily weather updates on Android phones pinpoint where you are each time the forecast is refreshed
• Simple searchers, such as ‘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
This information is all logged as part of the ‘Web and App Activity feature, which does not specifically reference location information in its description.
Leaving ‘Web & App Activity’ on and turning ‘Location History’ off only prevents Google from adding your movements to the ‘timeline,’ it’s visualisation of your daily travels.It does not stop Google’s collection of other location markers.
The privacy issue affects some two billion users of devices that run Google’s Android operating software and hundreds of millions of worldwide iPhone users who rely on Google for maps or search.