After Google Gets Caught Tracking Users’ Locations Without Permission, It Makes Changes—to a Help Page
On Monday, the Associated Press reported that Google’s apps and websites continue to track a user’s location even if Location History were turned off in that user’s settings. Google responded on Thursday—by changing its help page, not the feature.
AP reported this afternoon that Google had updated a page that explained how the Location History setting works. It now notes, “This setting does not affect other location services on your device, like Google Location Services and Find My Device. Some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps.” Google did not immediately respond to a Fortune request for comment.
With the revelation that users cannot easily turn off tracking, Google has seemingly found itself in the midst of swirling debates over privacy, particularly with the rollout of the Europe Union’s new sweeping privacy disclosure and tracking regulations in late May, and a consumer data protection law passed in California in June.
The AP’s Monday report described how using Google search, many of its websites, and some of its apps still lead to a user’s location being tracked on as precise as a minute-by-minute basis, including recognizing one’s home address and all the places visited. The Location History feature only controls whether locations tracking get added to an account-wide Timeline feature.
But there is a way to disable this app and website tracking. While logged in via a web browser to any Google product, select your avatar and then Google Account, and navigate to Manage Your Google Activity. Follow that to Go To Activity Controls, and under Web and App Activity, flip the switch to pause it. Still, Google’s site notes, “even when this setting is paused, Google may temporarily use information from recent searches in order to improve the quality of the active search session.”