Published: Tue, August 14, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Google search knows where you were even if you disabled Location History

Google search knows where you were even if you disabled Location History

Google representatives told the AP this location tracking can be disabled completely by turning off the "Web & App Activity" feature; find that setting here.

Google's smartphone services store users' locations even when privacy settings are adjusted to shut these features off, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Although Google maintains that such location-tracking features are meant to improve your experience. If you think location tracking is off while Google Maps still shows you as a blue dot precisely where you are, I don't know what to tell you. While Google has become a bit more transparent about tracking in recent years, the AP's study discovered there's still a lot going on that users aren't aware of. Google is clear about this in its notices to users, but it's fair to assume that most people don't realise there's also something called "Web and App Activity" that collects their location data. He shared a record of his Google account, carried an Android phone with him and turned location history off.

'We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time'.

Despite Google claiming that you can turn off the tracking, the Associated Press revealed that this is not true, and even "with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking".

So if you want to turn off location, you need to go Web and App Activity.

On desktop (also for iOS): Open Google in a new tab, sign into your account if you're not already signed in, click your profile picture (upper-right corner) and then click Google Account.

Plus, the company lets you "pause" the Location History setting, meaning your whereabouts aren't being charted by the company when you eventually decide to lay down the law...

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If that bothers you, now you can opt out - for real.

The key to success - and privacy - is to disable the Web & App Activity setting.

For any device: Fire up your browser and go to

If you do consent to your location being mapped, Google will create a "timeline" of your daily movements.

See, there you go.

"I am not opposed to background location tracking in principle", said Berkeley urban planning researcher K. Shankari.

Credit: Marshall Honorof/Tom's GuideWeb & App Activity will be the first option you see. Of course, it's no doubt used for marketing and advertising purposes as well. It is, however, stored in a section of your account called My Activity.

While disabling "Web & App Activity" will stop Google from storing location markers, it also prevents Google from storing information generated by searches and other activity. The device would still push location-based data to the Google account even with Location turned off.

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