Here’s how you can actually turn off Google location tracking

14 Aug 20183.01k Views

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Google Maps open on a mobile device. Image: Wachiwit/Shutterstock

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Following the report from AP detailing Google’s location-tracking practices, many people are concerned about their privacy.

An investigation by the Associated Press (AP) recently found that Google still tracks users’ location when they use services such as Maps and weather updates.

The Location History feature is just one of the ways Google tracks your location to deliver personalised services and tailored advertising.

When you switch off Location History, automatic recording of location for features such as the Maps timeline stops. That said, a warning sign then pops up, saying: “Some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other Google services, like Search and Maps.”

While the use of such location tracking generally has the tailored user experience in mind, there is a way to change these settings if it bothers you.

How to stop Google location tracking

Using another setting, Web & App Activity, users can prevent Google logging their location.

For computers, iPads and iPhones:

  • Go to the activity controls page
  • Toggle the Web & App Activity setting off
  • User can also turn off the switch for Location History, which is directly below the Web & App Activity setting

For Android:

  • Go to settings
  • Tap on Google, then Google Account
  • Tap on the Data & Personalisation tab, then on Web & App Activity
  • Switch off Web & App Activity

Users can also delete their location history in their Google Maps timeline by tapping the bin icon.

Speaking to Siliconrepublic.com, Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate for Comparitech.com, said: “It’s hard to believe that Google unintentionally obfuscated its location-related settings. Google has a commercial interest in knowing where its users go because that information helps improve ad targeting and in turn generates revenue.

“To be clear, the AP’s report focuses primarily on Google’s Activity Controls, which can be found at myactivity.google.com or myaccount.google.com. The AP disabled the Location History setting to perform their tests, and found they also needed to disable Web & App Activity to fully weed out Google’s location data collection.”

Bischoff added that these account preferences are separate from the Location setting in Android, which can be found in the device settings. “Here, you can select which apps have access to the phone’s location services. The AP’s report does not appear to touch on this setting.”

Google Maps open on a mobile device. Image: Wachiwit/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam is a writer covering all manner of business and tech subjects

editorial@siliconrepublic.com