Google updates location-tracking policy, but it’s still following you
Google has revised an inaccurate description on its website of ways its “Location History” placing works, clarifying that it maintains to music users even supposing they have got disabled the placing. The change came three days after an Associated Press research found out that several Google apps and websites save user location even though customers have become off Location History. Google has no longer modified its region-tracking exercise in that regard.
But its help web page for the Location History setting now states: “This placing does not affect different location offerings in your device.” It additionally acknowledges that “a few area statistics may be saved as part of your hobby on other services, like Search and Maps.” Previously, the web page stated: “With Location History off, the places you go are not saved.” The AP observed that the change happened midday Thursday, a finding confirmed with the aid of Internet Archive snapshots taken earlier inside the day.
The AP research found that regardless of Location History turned off, Google shops consumer area when, as an instance, the Google Maps app is opened, or whilst users conduct Google searches that aren’t related to the area. Automated searches of the local climate on a few Android telephones also store the telephone’s whereabouts.
In a Thursday declaration to the AP, Google said: “We have been updating the explanatory language about Location History to make it more constant and clean throughout our platforms and help facilities.” The assertion contrasted with a statement Google despatched to the AP several days ago that said in the component, “We provide clear descriptions of this equipment.”
Jonathan Mayer, a Princeton pc scientist and previous leader technologist for the Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement bureau, said the wording exchange became a step in the proper course. But it doesn’t repair the underlying confusion Google created by using storing area information in more than one method.
“The notion of having distinct ways in which you manipulate how your vicinity records are stored is inherently confusing,” he said Thursday. “I can’t assume off the top of my head of any principal online carrier that architected their region privateness settings comparably.” ALSO READ: Google follows you anywhere, right here’s how you could sell off it
K. Shankari, a UC Berkeley graduate researcher whose findings to start with alerted the AP to the difficulty, said Thursday the change was a “precise step forward,” but delivered “they can make it higher.” For one component, she said, the page nonetheless makes no point out of another setting called “Web & App Activity.” Turning that placing off that could, in reality, prevent recording region statistics.
Huge tech companies are below growing scrutiny over their facts practices, following a chain of privacy scandals at Facebook and new statistics-privacy guidelines lately followed through the European Union. Last yr, the business information website Quartz located that Google turned into monitoring Android customers by amassing the addresses of close-by cellular telephone towers, even supposing that all place offerings were off. Google changed the exercise and insisted it never recorded the statistics anyway.
Critics say Google’s insistence on monitoring its customers’ places stems from its pressure to reinforce advertising revenue. It can price advertisers greater if they want to slender ad delivery to folks who’ve visited sure places.
Several observers noted that Google is still bound using a 20-12 months settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in 2011. That consent decree calls for Google to now not misrepresent to consumers how they could defend their privacy. Google agreed to that order in reaction to an FTC research of its now-defunct social networking service Google Buzz, which the enterprise accused of publicly revealing users’ most common Gmail contacts.
A 12 months later, Google became fined $22.5 million for breaking the settlement after it served some customers of Apple’s Safari browser so-called tracking cookies in violation of settings meant to prevent that. The FTC has declined to mention whether it had all started investigating Google for its defined Location History.