Google recently found itself embroiled in a controversy regarding its location tracking policies, after it was found that even users that have opted out of tracking of Location History are still having their location tapped and logged by the search and internet giant. The issue stemmed from the use of Google Maps, which is the default mapping app for all Android smartphones, and is also used on the iOS platform by millions of users.
The company has now issued a clarification on the issue, which has seen Google get some considerable push back from users all over regarding the violation of privacy. The clarification comes through a change in the text on the help page for its location tracking tools.
Google has updated the text to say, “You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored. 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.”
To offer an interpretation, this means that while Google will no longer record your location history, but other Google services may continue to use location data. Location history and general location tracking are different from each other, and switching off location history on Google Maps won’t by default switch off all location data collection by Google. Indeed, the most effective way to prevent Google from collecting any location information would be to switch off your GPS and manually deactivate location tracking in all Google apps.
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Google’s location tracking policies can be both useful and scary at the same time. Allowing Google Maps to have your location history can serve to remind you where you were on a particular day in time by simply looking up the location history, but the thought of your private information being available to a large corporation is also fairly unsettling. Nonetheless, the issues of location tracking remain a severe pain point, particularly in the face of the various user privacy issues that have been making the news of late.