Google is being sued for excessive tracking of location service users, amid privacy concerns. This blog post discusses the benefits and drawbacks to help you decide whether you should allow or restrict Google Location services on your devices.
What Is Google Location History?
It is a Google feature which keeps track of all the locations you visit with your devices, be it a mobile, a tablet or a computer; as long as you are signed into your Google Account with the Location History feature turned on, Google will be able to store and save the locations you’ve visited.
This serves their purpose of showing targeted ads and helps you find out where you are. It can be helpful to users by predicting how long their usual commute route will take to get home; it can also help you track your phone if it’s lost and the phone is turned on.
The privacy concern is that as this information is kept online, it is susceptible to hacking.
Before you decide to allow or disallow location history, it’s a good idea to view what data Google’s location history has been collecting. If you have turned on location history on your mobile, the easiest way to see it in action is by visiting Google maps on your PC. In your PC browser, log in to your Google account (the same account you use on your mobile) and visit the following URL. You can see the type of data Google is collecting.
How to opt out of using location services.
This is where the problem arises and why Google is being sued.
Google stated that you could deactivate the feature by going to the Settings in your mobile and turning off Location Services.
Last week, an Associated Press investigation revealed that even if they disabled the "Location History" setting, to fully opt-out of having your location activities stored by Google, you also have to disable the 'Web and App Activity' control as well. This bit of information isn’t readily available and not many people know about it.
On Friday, the company changed its location policy, making it clear that even after turning off the Location History option, some Google services would continue collecting location information on you. Napoleon Patacsil is seeking class action against Google and thinks that this is a reactive measure by Google which is too little too late.
Patacsil states that the company's "principal goal" was to "surreptitiously monitor" smartphone users and allow third parties to do the same.
Google has not yet responded about the filing of the lawsuit.
It is interesting to see that Google has very recently announced that switching off location services doesn’t necessarily mean that your locations have stopped being logged. There are many ways that your information can be intercepted, recorded, and made available for uses that you haven’t agreed to. It is a consequence of all the technology that we expose ourselves to in current times. This is why at CRIP.TO we believe that we need a solution to protect our privacy which is in tune with the cybersecurity issues that we face today.
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