Ever have the feeling that someone is watching you? Like a pair of eyes is on you every moment of every day, watching your every movement, and even taking notes on a little pad? If you don’t have that feeling, you probably should have it, because it happens to be true. Google is implemented into virtually every mobile device and is making a log of your movements 24 hours a day. Not in a creepy way though, honest.
In fact, you can see the data being taken and stored by visiting myactivity.google.com, where your activity and location is being updated on a moment-by-moment basis. However, why exactly does Google do this, can it be turned off, and is it okay for tech giants like Google to so closely monitor the activity of its users? We dive into it below.
You’re Agreeing To It
But why would they even want to track you, and what benefit does it have? Many features offered by Google, from Google Maps to Google Search, are based on your current location. As Google puts it, your experience with software is drastically improved by applications knowing where you are. For example, should you search for an online casino; the results that come up will be based around the sites that are in your country and close to your location. The same goes for searching for a plumber or any other services you might need. Who wants results of plumbers that are located overseas?
Stop Watching Me
If you’re still not impressed, you can turn off tracking features. However, this is where it gets a little confusing. Many have assumed that turning off the Location History option in Settings will prevent any on going record being kept of a device’s location, but this is not the case. A record is still kept. To turn off this tracker completely, turning off the Web and App Activity setting is also needed.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that other social apps have gotten into trouble for misusing user’s information, with Facebook, Uber and Vizio being investigated and fined for what was deemed as misleading practices regarding data collection. There have been more than enough to raise a few red flags, and certainly get conversations going about how ethical the data collection systems of these enormous companies really are. What is being done with the collected data, and why is it even needed beyond the functionality of the applications? Several companies and individuals have made it their purpose to find out this exact information.
Within Your Control
Google has gone out of its way to ensure users that data collected is used only for the expressly stated purposes within their user and privacy agreements. Which is to say; it has been made very clear that the information and data stored is indeed used for advertising purposes. This, once again, is something agreed to upon accounts being made.
It is also possible for you, and every user, to manually delete any location data that has been collected. Once again, in order to do this, visiting myactivity.google.com will allow you to review, and remove, location based data gathered and stored through your device. Turning off Location History and Web and App Activity will prevent further logs of these types being made. However, your GPS and Map services will also stop working, meaning that you will no longer be able to get live directions to locations, which more or less demonstrates why they are needed in the first place.