How To Stop Google From Tracking Your Location (Really)

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Map with location pin

Turning off Location History doesn't stop Google from tracking you. There's one more account setting you can change to prevent tracking.

Google is in the news recently. It seems turning off Location History in a Google account doesn't completely turn off tracking.

Whether you're on a computer or mobile device, turning off one additional setting in a Google account will disable location tracking. If you use Google Maps or other location based Google services, you might not want to turn this off as Google Maps and any other location based Google services won't work properly.

To completely turn off location tracking, log in to your Google account to pause "Web and App Activity". If you haven't already done so, pause Location History. You can find the settings here:

  • Web: go to Personal info and privacy > Manage your Google activity > Activity controls
  • Android: Settings > Google Account > Data and personalization
  • iOS: Log in to Account Activity Controls using your browser

Location history doesn't stop Google from tracking you because Google utilizes multiple ways to track you. Other apps, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and mobile signal towers are used to pinpoint where you are. This is how Google Maps can be accurate in giving directions based on your location. These additional tracking methods are the reason you might have gotten notifications to review places you've visited, even if you turned Location history off, on a mobile device.

Pausing Location history and Web & App Activity stops tracking from that moment forward. You can delete past history manually by using the manage activity settings. You can pause and delete your search and browse history, YouTube activity, and other Google services in same area of your Google account. Even if you're on a desktop that doesn't go anywhere you might want to pause some Google services.

Google is currently updating its Help pages to reflect the changes in how tracking is used so the fine print matches how they collect location and other personal data.


(h/t Wired)

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Comments

@raymond4500332

"Then you don't use Youtube and Gmail, correct?"

I do, and I have said nothing against using them.

when i try to delete my history i get "400. That’s an error.

The requested URL was not found on this server. That’s all we know."

error message....what can i do? :-(

There could be any number of reasons you're getting that error. Google might be having site issues, there could be internet connection issues, browser hiccups, perhaps an ad blocker on your browser. I would refresh yor browser window (F5) and try it again.

@alsamaster
Then you don't use Youtube and Gmail, correct?

Due to small bandwidth caps and slow internet, even short YouTube videos stutter, stop and try to restart on my internet connection.
I rarely use Google Search, usually only to test something I want to write up, like adding the view image button back to Google images when it was removed recently. I'm not logged into a gmail account most of the time on any browser I use.

I have a gmail account I access with a third party email program. My main email addresses are attached to domains I own and ProtonMail. When needed I use a temporary email address.
These are all accessed through my desktop. I don't have a data plan on my cell phone - it's Android but there's no Google account associated with it and all non-essential Google services have been disabled.

That's how I use Google services. I'm neither for nor against Google. Everyone has their own level of comfort with free services like Google and Facebook, ranging from "I don't care" to "I will never use any Google/Facebook/etc service, ever". ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Valuable information. Personally I have been always vigilant with the tracking capabilities of Google and their diverse “historification” engines. One has to find a compromise point between convenience and privacy.

I do not see this as black or white, I mean, every person in the world should expect theses tracking activities by using such free offerings nowadays, not only coming from Google but other companies as well.

Of course that does not invalidate one fact: if you want to remain private, don’t use Google’s services.

It's not a black and white area with me either. I'm selective about how and what services I use that collect and use my personal data in exchange using their platform.