When “to google” officially became a transitive verb with the addition to Oxford English Dictionary in 2006, the California-based search engine giant has celebrated a huge victory. In 2020, the world as we know it is almost unthinkable without this company. Still, you can stop Google from tracking your location. Here’s how.
Google’s explanation for tracking your location is quite typical for a company living off people’s data, it’s all about “benefits”, “personalization” of user experience and even “more useful ads”.
Sure, there might be folks out there who would deliberately sacrifice their privacy for seeing better ads. Many would still prefer to simply turn the location tracking off and feel themselves a little bit less followed. And fortunately, Google gives you such an option.
Don’t be naive though, there were reports of Google using cell towers to know your whereabouts. Crazy, right? Basically, that means that if you use their services the company can still know where you’ve been and where you are. No matter what boxes you’ve unchecked. But that’s a grim reality of today’s internet privacy landscape.
Let’s go through the process of stopping Google tracking your location.
Hint: it’s quite easy, there’s no rocket science here.
Step 1: Your control room for everything privacy-related is the Google Account page. So go there.
Step 2: Now visit the Data & Personalisation section.
A side note, “personalisation” is usually a word big tech uses for justifying tracking of users and then selling your data to third-parties. So always pay attention to the permissions you’re granting there. And don’t let other tech companies that feed on your personal information to fool you.
Step 3: Hit that “Manage activity controls” button to enter the room Google doesn’t necessarily want you to enter.
Step 4: To stop Google from tracking your location be sure to untick two boxes:
- Web & App Activity
- Location History
There’s a puzzle on behalf of Google with names tricking users into thinking that the “Location History” function disabling will stop the company from tracking your location. Associated Press has reported about this trick.
In short, “Location History” is only about one aspect of Google tracking your location. Another one is the “Web & Apps” tab. Does it surprise you? It’s definitely not the first time that a company intentionally misleads users into thinking they have their data under control when, in fact, they don’t.
So, once again, in order to stop Google from tracking you completely (within the big tech limitations of the word completely we mean), be sure to disable both the web & app activity and the location history.
Check your Timeline too
If you would like to witness the true power of Google surveillance machine, head straight to the Timeline section. In the best dystopian traditions, the company has visualized your daily routes complete with everything you did.
Google knows (and stores on its servers) where you ate your breakfast, where you live, where you work, where your girlfriend/boyfriend lives, when you’ve seen your doctor and where you go on a walk.
Timeline is scary but you can sleep a little bit better now. With my help you’ve turned the tracking off and some third-party advertiser didn’t get his chunk of your private whereabouts.
However, still be sure to keep one eye open and monitor all the privacy news because the policy may change and the tracking will be resumed in some other fashion.
Also, check out how to get all the data that Google has on you
Discover how to disable Facebook tracking.
And follow me on Twitter.