Google apps track location despite controls – report

14 AUG 2018

A number of Google apps and services automatically record a snapshot of user location data, even when users have switched off a setting which plots location history, Associated Press (AP) found.

While users can toggle off a Location History feature on their Google account, AP concluded this only blocks locations from being added to Google’s timeline map of your movements. Other location data is still recorded by Google services, unless disabled under the Web and App Activity setting.

AP said the finding was verified by researchers at Princeton University and noted users can be tracked via apps including Google Maps, the company’s weather widget and web searches. Both iOS and Android devices were subject to the issue, the report added.

In a statement to AP, Google said it uses different location tracking tools to improve user experience, but maintained it provides “robust controls so people can turn them on or off and delete their histories at any time”.

The news comes as tech giants and operators alike face questions about user data privacy.

Facebook, Apple and Google parent Alphabet were among those quizzed by politicians over their data collection and protection practices. In June, all four major US operators pledged to stop sharing data with location aggregators after it was discovered a third party improperly gained access to a wireless subscriber’s location information.

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Diana Goovaerts

Diana joins Mobile World Live as its new US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana comes to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and...

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