Google Admits It Tracks You Even When Your Location History Is Turned Off
Turning off your Location History setting in various Google apps won't stop the search giant from tracking you. Google changed the language on the help page for its location data settings on Thursday, following an Associated Press investigation that revealed its practices regarding Location History were deceptive.
Now, the company admits that it still stores user location data through apps like Google Maps and general web searches even when you've turned the setting off, writing on its website: "This setting does not affect other location services on your device,” adding that “some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps.”
According to the AP, Google previously maintained that turning the Location History feature off would curtail the company's ability to track users, with the company previously noting: "With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”
But that only applied to Google's Timeline -- a feature that "maps out your daily movements," per the AP. The company still employs multiple means of tracking your whereabouts. Google, for its part, responded to the investigation with an acknowledgement of the practice, indicating that it will remain in effect, albeit with greater transparency.
"We have been updating the explanatory language about Location History to make it more consistent and clear across our platforms and help centers,” the company wrote.
The statement marks a massive reversal from its previous stance on tracking location data, offered only a few days prior. Before the revelations emerged, a Google spokesperson told the AP:
"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.”