The modern world’s businesses realized the value of data and information long before other players grasped the importance of those commodities. Data, obviously, can be sourced from users through any means, means that are peddled as legitimate but raise lots of ethical questions if they are scrutinized deeply. This has forced top companies to divulge, albeit partly, details about data collection practices for privacy reasons and one of such institutions is Google. Other than user details, Google collects location data, for which users have been given an option to opt out of if they do not want the search giant to have a record of places they visit.
Unfortunately, it has since emerged that turning off location services on smart handheld devices from Android and Apple’s iOS platforms does not shield users from being monitored. This discovery was revealed by the Associated Press, which reported that even if Google gives their customers options to turn location services off, it still stores some data about the whereabouts of a device/person.
According to Google, the corporation does not store location if a user chooses to turn off the setting and solidly says so on its support page.
You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored. When you turn off Location History for your Google Account, it’s off for all devices associated with that Google Account.
Now, as you may have predicted, this is not the case, and honestly, it would be naïve to take Google’s word for what it says on the support page. The report refutes the statement as:
For example, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you merely open its Maps app. Automatic daily weather updates on Android phones pinpoint roughly where you are. And some searches that have nothing to do with location, like “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.
Admittedly, this is a privacy issue that affects billions of devices that leverage services such as Google Maps and Google Search.
Turning off location services does behave as a user would expect – some do it for privacy concerns, while some need to save some battery power. Therefore, people are advised to dig into the Google’s ‘Web and App’ activity setting and toggle it off. It is tucked a few clicks away from the, so this is how you can get access to it:
Settings > Google > Google Account > Data & Personalization. Scroll down and you will see Web and App Activity on Activity Controls. Click it and turn it off.