Avoiding Google’s Geotracking Requires Disabling More Than Location History

Originally published at: https://tidbits.com/2018/08/13/avoiding-googles-geotracking-requires-disabling-more-than-location-history/

An investigation by the Associated Press and Princeton University has found that Google tracks and stores your location history even when you have disabled Location History. To prevent Google from tracking your location, also disable Web & App Activity.

Let’s see how Discourse polls work!

Does Google’s location tracking bother you enough to turn off Location History and Web & App Activity or avoid Google’s iOS apps entirely?

  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

One of the main reasons I don’t want any Google apps on my iPhone. Free isn’t free and I’m not willing to pay their price for “free”.


Adam, there should be a “Maybe” option. I’m on the fence about this and would have selected “Maybe”. Since that option didn’t exist, I had to vote “No”.

I have none of their apps on my phone.

I do have several Gmail accounts. I used to just instantly add one for each project I was involved in, while I only check one now, that account is everywhere… at some point I’ll unhook all that.

While I like the aggregated information Google is able to show us from tracking (e.g., busy hours of shops/restaurants), I don’t like the personalised predictions/targeting. Apple also tracks our geoinformation but uses it only in aggregated form and by respecting our privacy https://machinelearning.apple.com/2017/12/06/learning-with-privacy-at-scale.html. Since I can not enable only aggregated analysis of my location data (and disable the personalised one), I prefer to disable entirely Google geotracking. And I hate the way they made it confusing for us.

That’s precisely why I didn’t have a Maybe option. Either you really don’t like the tracking and have taken steps to stop it, or you haven’t. It’s like being pregnant—either you are or you aren’t, there is no middle ground. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I beg to differ here as there are some Google apps I can’t do away with yet, GMail for example because my ISP contracted with GMail years ago to handle their email. Another is Google search, I’ve tried Duck Duck, Bing, etc. but they just aren’t as good. Apple Maps is now good enough to turn off Google Maps. So my “No” is not because I don’t mind tracking, but because I CAN’T stop using all things Google yet.

That’s what I’m saying, though. You’re bothered, but not enough to go to the mega-hassle that’s necessary to avoid Google entirely. Which applies to many people.

In my case, I have disabled location tracking for web & app activity, device information, voice and audio activity, YouTube search history, and YouTube watch history, but I left location history on, so that Google Maps will be useful. (On my phone, I have location services set to “while using the app” for Google Maps and Waze).

I answered “no” to the poll, but the reality is that my answer should be “no and yes”. It’s a little more complicated than just “no” or “yes”, as there are discrete ways to prevent location tracking with some Google services and allow it for others.

It is such an infringement on my privacy. That I turned everything off. Just using Bing as a search engine.
On my iOS device I checked the box 'only when using" for the maps and traffic. They tracked every local trip I made. Who are these people anyway? Outrageous.