How Google's location problem affects you

This week, the Associated Press published the findings of its investigation showing that Google is tracking your locations, even if you have turned off the Location History setting, which the company claims to do if you do not want Google tracking. Google manages or deletes your Location History page: "You can turn Location History off at any time With Location History Off, the places you are going are no longer stored."

"That is not true," writes the AP. "Even if Location History is paused, some Google apps automatically store location data with timestamps without asking for it. (It's possible, though laborious, to delete it.)" In short, it's the location leak of almost everything is not Location History. For anyone who is aware of the inherent deception and the theft of data from apps, that is not a big surprise when you think about it. Anyway, the AP explained:

Google saves, for example, a snapshot of where you are when you just open his Maps app. Automatic daily weather updates on Android phones point exactly where you are. And some searches that have nothing to do with the location, such as & # 39; chocolate chip cookies & # 39; or & # 39; Kids Science Kits & # 39 ;, precisely determine the latitude and longitude – accurate to the square foot – and store them in your Google Account. [19659002] The report also reported: "Computer scientists from Princeton confirmed these findings at the request of the AP."

Not cool, Google. Not cool. When the piece of the AP got grip, Google scrambled to bring his message together, and gave various explanations to different sales outlets. The AP received an old-school Facebook style that passed the issue-around-the-matter and accused the user that Google used the location "to improve people's experience" and that people can use these "robust" settings to follow off. Right. Then The Verge got a statement with & # 39; we make sure that users of Location History know that when they turn off the product, we will continue to use the location to improve the Google experience when doing things like a Perform Google search or use Google for driving directions. "

Well, that's definitely more important, at least Google has not said that it's about user safety, facilitating a literal genocide (Facebook), or a few knuckles from the InfoWars brand. gets another spotlight on the Trust and Safety-theater (Twitter) Small favors, we bring you where we can get them

Engadget contacted Google during the preparation of this article We have indicated that more ways that Google maintains the user location, indicating that the company's location pause is not sufficient to prevent the location of a user from being tracked by the company, so we have pointed out that the situation makes it impossible for a user to Make informed decision – or give informed consent Our request to Google for comment or clarification was not answered by publication. [19659002] The point is that this affects everyone using a Google service, no matter what kind of phone they have. If you're wondering how this might affect you, you do not have to look any further than this week's news that the FBI in March bothered Google with this exact data "to find all users of [Google’s] services who had been in the neighborhood "of a string with nine robbers in Portland, Oregon. The request seemed to include "anyone with an Android or iPhone who used Google's tools, not just the suspect", writes Forbes .

This is because, as the AP found in his research, the location location privacy site affects people using Google stuff on iPhones and everyone on Android.

"The FBI then demanded a lot of personal information about affected users, including their full names and addresses, as well as their Google account activity. The FBI also wanted all historical locations of all users involved," the article said.

So the federal government is well aware that the Location History switch does not technically do what everyone thinks it should do – preventing your location from ending up on your permanent Google record. It is scary to think about what ICE would like to do with this specific attack vector. We should probably adopt the same for every app we have on our phones, by the way.

Google has not responded to the repeated demands of the FBI to convert the data, which is a bright spot in all of this. But if there has ever been a period in history where we really have to worry that the federal government is pursuing data that we can not control, then it is now.

Look no further than what the Justice Department did under Jeff Sessions with the 230 arrested – including journalists and medical staff – at the Trump inauguration protests. In that case, Washington, DC, the police and the Superior Court of DC went on Facebook data (and the arresters' phones) to eventually get the majority of those who got 60 years in prison to protest against Trump.

And then there is the problem with stalking location data, something that has been a real problem with Google (and Facebook).

Of course it is all much worse now, because people were not aware of what they were in danger of, due to the incomplete information they had. It is a shame after Google's search to make its privacy tools more user-friendly. I think that if people know how much they are followed, and by whom, they can make other choices about the risks in practice for themselves and the people they care about.

If you want to zoom in and cut As many ways as possible for Google to view your location, see our step-by-step guide in this article.

At the moment we live in a time when it is totally impossible to know how we are followed, and by whom and what happens to that information. Apart from smooth company dubbelspeak, your phone is a tracking device, no matter how you cut it: mobile towers triangulate your physical position, and the use of WiFi clocks your location.

Then there are the things we do not expect, as this Twitter user recently discovered that Google Photo's location is auto-tapping, even if geotagging is disabled:

But has a cardboard Eiffel Tower with him to put in pictures, so that Google & # 39; s AI Deep Mind "will begin to think Paris has highly varying terrain" is not the ideal solution.

For now, it is the only solution we have.

Images: Anatolii Babii / Getty (Google maps)

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