AP Probe: Google Is Storing Data You Said Not To

Specifically, your location data
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 13, 2018 11:36 AM CDT
In this photo from Wednesday, a mobile phone displays a user's travels in New York.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

(Newser) – Google wants to know where you go so badly that it records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to. An AP investigation found many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you've used privacy settings that say they'll prevent it from doing so. Computer-science researchers at Princeton confirmed these findings at the AP's request. For the most part, Google is upfront about asking permission to use your location information. An app like Google Maps will remind you to allow access to your location if you use it for navigating. But the company will also let you "pause" a setting called "Location History," which it says will prevent the company from remembering where you've been. Google's support page on the subject states: "You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored."

But even with "Location History" paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking. For example, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you merely open its Maps app; automatic daily weather updates on Android phones also pinpoint roughly where you are. The privacy issue affects some 2 billion users of devices running Google's Android operating software and hundreds of millions of iPhone users who rely on Google for maps or search. Critics say Google's insistence on tracking its users' locations stems from its drive to boost advertising revenue. In a statement, a Google rep says the company is being perfectly clear and offers "robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time." Check out the AP for more on why Google's remarks may be simplifying a more complex issue.

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