A new report finds that millions of users are unknowingly monitoring their location. Google's privacy settings were carefully examined after a study found that millions of users were being monitored, even though they asked not to be.
An investigation launched by the Associated Press (AP) found that Google apps, such as Maps and Search, store data on a user's location minute by minute and present them in the form of a timeline that can be viewed.
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But the AP report says that some apps continue to take a snapshot of a person's location, even if the user has disabled tracking functionality or has never enabled it. Google gives the impression of having user data under control.
“You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History turned off, the places you visit will no longer be stored, he says.
But the Associated Press states that it is not always the case. "Even with Location History Paused, some Google apps automatically store location data with the date and time and without asking."
Other media also question Google's claim that users have control over their privacy settings. The Maps app records users' location information as soon as they launch the software, while Google Android's mobile operating system provides an approximation of a person's location, says The Independent.
The problem has wide repercussions because the privacy risks are not exclusive to devices based on Google's Android mobile system. Anyone who downloads an app developed by the search giant (including iPhone users) at risk, because their position could be traced without your consent.
While Location History is disabled by default, the US news group CNBC claims that web tracking and storage of location data are automatically enabled.
So if users don't check the My Activities page on their account, they may never know that Google is monitoring them, says the news site.
How to avoid being tracked by Google on Android and iPhone
You can prevent Google apps from tracking your location through your account settings.
The Guardian recommends Android users to follow the following six steps to prevent Google from recording data about your location:
- Select the device settings menu.
- Go to Google, then select Google Account.
- Tap the Data & Personalization button before selecting Web & App Activities.
- Once there, disable Web and App Activities.
- Go back to Data and Personalization and select Location History.
- Turn off all devices associated with your Google Account.
For Apple users, the procedure is slightly different. If you own an iPhone, follow these four steps:
- Go to your Google Account in the browser of your choice and log in.
- Click on your profile picture and select the Google Account tab.
- Tap on Personal Information and Privacy, before selecting My Activity.
- Select Activity Controls and disable Web and App Activities.
We continue to talk about our data and tracking:
Read on below.