If you use a smart phone, you have the option to let apps track your location. These location services can come in handy when, for instance, you want to get turn-by-turn directions to a destination, or find the closest coffee shop to you, or get your local weather forecast.
Companies such as Google and Apple keep a history of where you’ve been. Viewing your location history you can see the places you’ve visited in the past.
Apple stores your location information in Frequent Locations on the iPhone and iPad. According to Apple, “This data is kept solely on your device and won’t be sent to Apple without your consent. It will be used to provide you with personalized services, such as predictive traffic routing.”
Google keeps track of your location in Location History, which is a record of places you’ve been. You can see your location history on a map and view a list of addresses you’ve visited. According to Google, “Google Location History lets Google save your location to provide benefits like improved map searches and tailored commute information.”
But there may be times when you don’t want your location to be saved. Perhaps you’d prefer not to share your location with companies that are collecting your data. Or maybe you’d rather not keep a history of where you’ve been.
While there are plenty of reasons you may not want your location history recorded, turning off location history for Google turns out to be a bit trickier than you might expect.
AP recently discovered that Google was still keeping the location history of people who turn off Location History, even when they turn off Location History using the method set forth by Google. Working with researchers at Princeton University, AP found that “even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking.”
They realized that their location history was not merely stored in Location History, but also in the Web & App Activity section of Google settings. They learned that to prevent location history from being stored, users must turn off both Location History and Web & Activity in Google settings.
How to REALLY Turn Off Google Location History
To prevent Google from keeping a record of your location history, you must turn off permission in both Location History and Web & App Activity.
To learn how to turn off Google Location History, see The Wonder of Tech article: Your Google Location History: How to See It and Turn It Off where the process is explained.
But turning off Location History isn’t enough. You must also turn off Web & App Activity to prevent Google from keeping a record of your location history.
To turn off Web & App Activity, go to myactivity.google.com/myactivity, then click Activity Controls.
Slide Off Web & App Activity.
You’ll then see a warning that by pausing Web & App Activity you will receive personalized results from Google that are less personalized.
Click Pause to confirm.
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Deleting Past Location History
Note that turning off these settings does not delete your location history or any other information Google has collected about you in the past. To delete that information, you must delete each entry individually.
Learn more about managing your Location History at Google’s Location History Help page.
Are you okay with Google keeping your location history? Vote in The Wonder of Tech poll to share your opinion:
Did you have Google Location History turned off? Did you realize that Google was still keeping your location history in Web & App Activity? Are you willing to share your location history to get better services from Google?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!
More on Privacy
For a fascinating read on how one man successfully battled tech’s biggest companies to protect our privacy, check out The New York Times Magazine article: The Unlikely Activists Who Took On Silicon Valley — and Won.