Google Caught Misleading Users About Tracking Location Data

Combined Shape

Google can always find you.

Contrary to claims Google was making to consumers, The Associated Press reported that some Google apps “automatically store time-stamped location data without asking.”

According to the AP, when a user simply opens the Maps app, that user’s location is stored.  Asking for weather updates means that a phone will note where the user was when the request was made.

But the AP also found random searches for subjects such as  “chocolate chip cookies,” or “kids science kits,” resulted in the phone tracking a user’s latitude and longitude.

Jonathan Mayer, a Princeton computer scientist, had his lab test and verify the AP’s findings. The AP reported that whether the apps were installed on iPhones of Android phones, the results were the same. Mayer said that’s a problem.

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“If you’re going to allow users to turn off something called ‘Location History,’ then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off,” Mayer said. “That seems like a pretty straightforward position to have.”

The company said users are informed of what their phones are up to.

“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,” the company said in a statement, Bloomberg News reported.

.“… 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.”

Has true privacy become a thing of the past?

Google needs to know where users are, one commentator said.

“They build advertising information out of data,” said Peter Lenz, the senior geospatial analyst at Dstillery, an advertising technology company. “More data for them presumably means more profit.”

After the report revealed Google’s practices, the Electronic Privacy Information Center wrote to the Federal Trade Commission saying that Google’s action “clearly violates” a 2011 settlement with the government over Google’s privacy practices, the AP reported.

Google also responded to the report by making a change in what it told consumers, according to a follow-up AP report.

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Google formerly told users that “with Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”

Google now says, “This setting does not affect other location services on your device.” It adds that “some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps.”

Google is owned by Alphabet Inc.

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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at jackwritings1@gmail.com.
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