Google apps store location data, even when feature is turned off

Andy Boxall | August 14, 2018

App Business

Google apps that record and store activity based on location may continue to do so, even after a user has asked for the activity to stop, according to a report by the Associated Press. It’s shown that even with Location History turned off, some Google apps still process and retain location data.

In the examples given, Google still records location when the Maps app is opened, and will use location data when performing web searches, even if the search term does not include location requests. The problem extends across devices running Android and iOS.

Google 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.”

It’s possible to turn off these features, but not solely though disabling location history. Additional settings under Web and App Activity must be turned off for the apps to stop saving location data to a Google account. However, location markers are still stored, and must be deleted individually.

The AP calls Google’s warnings when turning off Location History, “potentially misleading,” as they do not make it clear what services and activity will be stopped. Google uses location data to target advertising campaigns, through which it makes billions of dollars in revenue.

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