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Google clarifies Location History help pages following tracking backlash

By Cal Jeffrey · 7 replies
Aug 17, 2018
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  1. Thanks to the backlash from users, some of whom were not even aware they were still being tracked, Google has changed the language on its help pages to clarify its tracking practices.

    Today a Google spokesperson told the Associated Press, “We have been updating the explanatory language about Location History to make it more consistent and clear across our platforms and help centers.”

    Its stance seems to have swung 180 degrees since Monday when the search giant claimed that it was “perfectly clear” regarding its tracking policies. Public outcry obviously changed the company’s mind about just how transparent it was.

    The specific language used on the Location History help pages was quite misleading. It previously said, “With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”

    This statement is patently false. Many apps including Maps and Chrome continue to store your location even with history disabled. This statement has been removed and now reads:

    “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.”

    The clarity and transparency are welcomed and all, but it still does not address the oblique and cumbersome process involved in turning off location services. First, you have to log into your Google account and select “Manage Your Google Activity.” Then click “Go To Activity Controls.” On the next page, you have to toggle off “Web and App Activity (image above).”

    As you can see, even if you know what you are doing the process is not straightforward. Of course, while Google may deny it, this is undoubtedly by design. Since we are the product that Google sells, and our location data is valuable to advertisers, the company naturally made opting out of location services more complicated than it needs to be.

    Until Google makes a “Location Services” toggle built into the Android OS, the company is not really doing users any favors.

    Permalink to story.

  2. gigantor21

    gigantor21 TS Maniac Posts: 172   +233

    "Public outcry obviously changed the company’s mind about just how transparent it was."

    As usual...
    senketsu likes this.
  3. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 679   +495

    I use (and love) Google location history so this isn't an issue for me. Even in a worst-case scenario, I don't have anything to hide with my whereabouts. In the end, this should be made clear with the option to turn it off, but it's really a non-issue unless you are paranoid or a person of interest.
  4. pkroliko1

    pkroliko1 TS Member Posts: 18

    The issue isn't if there is something with one person. Its when they use the aggregate data to try to manipulate people etc. That is the problem. Having data on one person isn't much having data on a million people is something completely different. Has nothing to do with paranoia. Governments, tech companies etc anyone with unregulated power always abuses that power sooner or later. Better to be proactive than wait for the worst. I.e Google had a program that allegedly they haven't implemented that dealt with trying to mass manipulate people.
    senketsu, Reehahs and Evernessince like this.
  5. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,999   +3,483

    Your excuses are the same that are used in Orwell's 1984 and throughout history to slowly strip away individual rights. I'm not into sewing myself but I'm certainly thankful there exists people who are, just as you should be thankful here that people are "paranoid" enough to protect basic human rights. If you are going to suggest people are mentally ill at the thought of their privacy being sold as a product without their consent, I'd recommend you check your bias.
    senketsu and Reehahs like this.
  6. alabama man

    alabama man TS Guru Posts: 563   +355

    They have to track you at all times because of their military obligations. Drones need to know where everyone is at all times.

    I still wonder how google is allowed to operate outside US as it's part of it's military.
  7. AtWitsEnd

    AtWitsEnd TS Rookie

    I hate that I have to use google. But having Brave and duckduckgo, helps a little.
    "I have nothing to hide" is a horrible thing to say. Do you still live with your mother? Do you report to her everywhere you go and justify everything you do, because "you have nothing to hide". My privacy is MY personal freedom. If I have no say in it, then it's not mine, and if it's not mine, then I belong to some company that tracks everything I do in order to push "personalized adverts" to try and get me to buy stuff I don't want or need. At the very least.
    senketsu likes this.
  8. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,766   +1,160

    What was even more funny than this, was when Google told me it didn't know where home is after disabling everything... yeah right Google, nice try!

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