How To (Actually) Turn Off Your Location Data
Google was being sneaky. Be sneakier.
This past week, Google settled a lawsuit brought against it by 40 states for misleading users regarding how and when it gathered location data. The data-collecting-behemoth will pay $391.5 million (a drop in the bucket for Google) to be split among the 40 states.
The initial investigation was prompted by a 2018 story by the Associated Press. The findings showed that Google was still tracking people’s location data even after they opted out of such tracking by disabling “location history,” found in the software settings of the account.
“Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt-out of tracking.
Understand that you’re being tracked every minute of every day where you are.”
-Connecticut Attorney General William Tong
Tech companies use location tracking to sell digital ads to marketers looking to connect with consumers within their vicinity. This data-gathering toolkit generates over $200 billion in annual ad revenue for Google. This is where most of the profits of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) are “earned”. Alphabet has a market value of $1.2 trillion. Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of stealing your data (in fact, lying about it), they paid you for it? That’s how it should be — no lawsuit required.
The company says that they have updated their software in recent years to no longer record the data when the setting is toggled off.
It is a smart idea to go through your phone privacy settings at about the same rate as you go to the dentist. There are other apps and companies than Google that are using location data to make profits, selling them to God only knows who.
Find your location settings using the steps below and toggle off the location permissions for those apps and services that don’t need it and work perfectly fine without it. Several of them don’t, and most only need it when you are using it.
A photo editor app does not need your second-by-second location to allow you to add a filter to a picture. Even your mobile browser will be fine without it in most cases.
Android: Settings > Biometrics and security > App permissions > Location.
Apple: Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
You can also toggle a separate setting in your Google Activity Controls to specifically halt Google from collecting more of your data.
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