The topic of online security and privacy has been in the spotlight more than ever before throughout this past year, with many stories of popular apps and websites sharing customers’ personal information.
The latest development regarding this topic comes from tech giant Google. The company apparently keeps track of its users’ location after users turn off the “Location History” feature. Google manages to collect data, recognize people’s specific location on a minute-to-minute basis, and even remember users’ home addresses.
The Associated Press first discovered that Google apparently uses its users’ activities to track them. Browser searches, weather updates, and Google Maps locations are all used to track users’ locations.
Turning off “Web and App Activity” disables Google’s ability to gather data that helps the app find out users’ exact coordinates and location history. If users do not want to use this feature, they can also go to the myactivity.google.com website and manually delete activity which is directly tied to their locations.
A spokesperson for Google stated:
Location History is a Google product that is entirely opt in, and users have the controls to edit, delete, or turn it off at any time. As the story notes, we make sure Location History users know that when they disable the product, we continue to use location to improve the Google experience when they do things like perform a Google search or use Google for driving directions.”
While this latter clarification is definitely part of Google’s policy, there are very few users who are actually aware of this practice and are probably unwillingly giving their data to the company. This is not a light subject matter, as misleading data practices have previously caused companies to face legal consequences enforced by the federal government. It is unclear if Google will face similar consequences, or if this news will simply be ignored by legislators.
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