Google Knows Everywhere You Go — Here’s How To Stop It From Tracking You And Delete The Logs

from CNBC

Google knows a lot about you and, if you use Google Maps or other Google apps, it stores a copy of everywhere you go. I recently performed Google’s “Privacy Checkup” to learn a bit more about what it knows about me, and was pretty surprised at the level of detail it had on my exact locations.

I picked a random date: April 16, 2019. It knew everywhere I went, including that I took Interstate 95 to our office in northern New Jersey and that I arrived at 7:58 a.m. It knew that at 1:02 p.m. I drove to Jersey City and took a train in to Manhattan to the New York Stock Exchange before returning home at 4:38 p.m. And it has a copy of the pictures I took at each location.

It’s a creepy level of detail.

More here.

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14 Responses to Google Knows Everywhere You Go — Here’s How To Stop It From Tracking You And Delete The Logs

  1. Nicholas Meyerback May 1, 2019 at 9:46 pm #

    At this point any functioning adult who vaguely pays attention to the news knows that tech companies are collecting data on their users. The Cambridge Analytica Scandal that arose around the time of the 2016 Presential Election brought online privacy to the mainstream. The election drew attention to more egregious techniques like Psychographic Profiling, or the analysis of personality, values and lifestyles via compilation of search history and profile interactions. This type of data analytics was utilized to market advertisements and articles that a user would be more likely to gravitate towards. Other types of data manipulation can appear relatively benign in comparison. The common thread, however, is that the user is generally unaware of how they are being documented and how their data is used.

    Google is among the chief culprits of big data manipulation. As a free service, Google must find ambiguous sources of revenue. The most obvious source of revenue is from advertisements. Google makes money by selling advertisements on search results. They also charge companies who seek to have their name come up with relevant searches. They also employ cryptic methods for profit creation. Google generates profiles based on activity in a similar manner to psychographic profiling. The data on every interaction with a Google product is compiled into an algorithm that spawns a “unique advertising ID” to be used for marketing purposes. The unique advertising ID is heavily influenced by spending habits to predict future sales. One of the activities that Google pays attention to, unbeknownst the majority of the public, is travel. This is beyond flight history and hotel searches. Google is aware of your physical location at all times. Google tracks an individual’s location outside of its Google Maps feature. Google knows where you are if you are signed into one of their devices including Chrome. The corporation claims that only the user is aware of this information, but users should be wary of the potential of this data becoming leaked in a cyberattack.

    Users should be aware of their rights. Though many may be generally unaware of everything that Google knows about them because they skimmed the terms and conditions portion of the user agreement, the company does offer partial transparency by allowing its clientele to maintain a level of control over their data. One can manage their data by visiting their My Accounts page. There is the ability to opt out of certain variations of internet-based advertising, however it is unclear if this prevents Google from continuing to amass this information. Disassociating personal data from an advertising ID is also possible. Furthermore, Google will cease to collect location data if the user elects to “turn off location history”.

  2. Alexander Dornbierer May 2, 2019 at 8:57 am #

    Throughout the year we have been given blog comments about many different websites and their privacy practice. Most of the scrutiny has been on Facebook, but other companies are now starting to fall victim to the growing knowledge about internet privacy. At the recent F8 Developers Conference Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, made a joke, and not a good one at that, about the recent heat the company has been getting on how it handles its consumers privacy. The joke was meet with no laughter from the crowd and that awkward, alien like, crude smile that Zuckerberg has. This article talks about the way Google tracks everywhere you go through the use of its services in order to provide “better recommendations, and more personalized experiences in Maps, Search, and other Google services.” But unlike Facebook, Google offers a way for its consumers to turn off the location tracker. By using the steps provide in the article you should have turned off your location tracking and your web and activity tracker. While I would not expect that your privacy from Google is completely private, it may give people a peace of mind and have them believing that their internet and location privacy are back. You not be able to see yourself getting tracked but believe me you are. Whether it be through the use of credit/debit cards, text messages, facial recognition, and a countless number of services that are used to track you. It may be your physical location, or your internet activity being tracked, heck it probably is both. A question I have after reading the article is what happens after you have removed yourself from all of googles services. During class on Wednesday, a student asked Professor Shannon what he had planned for over the summer. He told the class that he was planning on removing himself from as many as Google products as he could. That statement seemed strange to me when I first heard Professor Shannon say it, but after reading the article I can see where he is coming from. But what happens if Professor Shannon does remove himself from all of Googles products. No more YouTube, no more Gmail, no more Google Chrome. Will they still be able to track his whereabouts and his internet activity. The world will never know.

  3. Rachel Leto May 2, 2019 at 9:51 am #

    After all of the articles that I have read, the videos I have watched, and the discussions that we have had in class, I have never been more concerned and more convinced that privacy no longer exists. No matter how hard someone tries, it is almost impossible for a company to not have some type of data on you. Every time I read a new article on it, it gets creepier and creepier and more specific. If you use google maps, it tracks where you are going, what time you leave, what time you arrive, it saves the pictures you took at these places, it has every single move you make at all times. The article even stated that if you give the “privacy checkup” a specific date, it will tell you exactly where you were on that day and all of the times you left and went somewhere else. Why do you need this type of information? The answer is that this isn’t for the user to look at to reminisce where they have been.
    This is just another way to make it easier for companies to sell your data. If google notices that you have been to a certain restaurant or store multiple times in a period of time, they will be more than happy to let that company know that this person has visited you a lot lately, go advertise to them. The article mentioned that google states that the “map is only visible to you”. The thought of this is frightening because we know that it isn’t and we know that all of this data is stored somewhere and with the absolute right material and right timing, this could be hacked. If someone were to be able to get into this data, they can simply search anyone up and see where they live, where they work, what the building looks like if they took pictures, wat stores they shop at, and where they spend most of their time. The thought of all of that valuable information getting into the wrong hands is something I don’t want to see come true.

  4. Jack F Comfort May 2, 2019 at 9:20 pm #

    Google, as well as with most websites, track your data for a variety of different reasons. The difference with Google is when they track your data they’re also tracking your location. Google says that this data is private, but with the growing amount of scandals with the big tech corporations and the rise of hackers in the past few years, it’s hard to believe no one else will get their hands on it. Why Google would ever need to track your location is also hard to grasp, as most companies track your data to sell to advertisers. If Google is selling your location, that would be a major invasion of privacy. This wouldn’t be a surprise as a lot of the tech companies seem to not understand the definition of privacy these days. This makes you wonder if other companies are doing the same thing and what they’re doing with this info.

  5. Andrew Kenny May 2, 2019 at 9:49 pm #

    Well, I am not too surprised with the information from this article. This class has only proven how much of my information is being collected. At this point I realize that companies will do anything to try and learn more about us to create demographics and then use that to target audiences for goods and services. It seems as if invasion of privacy does not really phase them whatsoever. Just seeing how difficult it is to block them from tracking your location all day is absurd. Why must they know every location we are in every day and what routes we take? There is no reason for that information to be infringed upon. With them lying to us that our map is only visible to us, it just proves that they are selling off our data to companies. They may tell companies where we are traveling or what our days consist of so they can understand their customer base and their tendencies.
    The future of marketing rests in the hands of major corporations. Our data is expendable and not at all private. With no signs of compensation for our data or any signs of the slowing of data-mining,we are pawns. At this point, to try and keep some of our data private, we can only rely on damage control because most of our information has already been used and/or sold.

  6. Raymond Wilkinson IV May 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm #

    This article about Google tracking everywhere people using their apps comes at no surprise whatsoever to me. Everybody knows already that Google and other apps are tracking the places you go to, apps you use, and now the usage time of your device. What did however surprise me was the copy of pictures the author of the article mentioned. I always had a feeling any picture I took would be copied but I never knew how deep these app providers and technology companies would go. Armed with this scary information I myself checked my location data. To my relief Google did not have any copied pictures on my data list but they still had quite the detailed list of my schedule each day. I went through a few different random dates and saw my exact schedule of everything I did those past days. This experience was honestly nostalgic but scary at the same time. As I am someone who enjoys looking back at past events and seeing what I did on a day back a few years. Also, this was scary because of the detail it had. I could see how long I drove for, the exact route I took, how long I was at place, and even the exact address of where I was. It even showed whether I was walking or driving. One positive out of this was I noticed around 2017 the data google had on me stopped, I suppose I inadvertently turned off their services without knowing but I was met with a sense of relief to see that. I encourage everyone reading this article to go and test this out also to turn off your location data or even go as far as delete it.

  7. Allya Jaquez May 3, 2019 at 9:37 am #

    Before even clicking on this article, I already had an idea of what it was going to be about. I already knew what it was going to be about because of all the conversations we have had in class. I think it is pretty scary that google tracks our every movement and if it was not for this business law class, I would have never known half of the things I know now about the internet and the government. I mean it is definitely pretty obvious from the google maps app. Those working behind it know exactly where you go, when you go and even what time you leave. Because of this article, I now know how well those in google keep an eye on almost everyone around the world. I definitely remember the first day the notification popped up on my screen saying, “30 minutes to get to Seton Hall University.” I thought it was so crazy because I had only used google maps once to get to school and now it shows up literally every time my phone is connected to my car. I am so glad I read this article because not only did it remind me of things I should have known but it also tells me how I can prevent all of this from happening. I advise everyone to turn off their location because tracking your every move is not hard for the government at all.

  8. Kyle Stephens May 3, 2019 at 11:56 am #

    Privacy has been a main staple of this course so it is only fitting that we finish off with a privacy article. I for one am honestly kind of scared that google is tracking our location like this when we aren’t even using their any of their products. Tracking us in that manner is a huge invasion of privacy, and I’m glad there is a way to delete all this. Because this is very sensitive information that someone could use for any number of reasons. One of my main concerns with this is obviously it getting hacked. If google maps gets hacked and everyone’s routes are free to see then we have a plethora of problems. For one, people can look at your maps and see which trips you make everyday. With that information they can stalk you, follow you, kidnap you, etc. It seems dangerous and honestly not very smart of Google to be doing this and storing our information online claiming its for us to use. First off, I don’t think many people even know this exists so how is it for “our use”. Second, if we didn’t explicitly sign up for it, why are you tracking us? And third, What could you possibly want with that information? I understand stealing data from our profiles and selling that but how does tracking my location help with anything other than watching me? It seems more like a surveillance system than anything else. Plus, the government can get access to these maps at a moment’s notice which creates interesting conspiracy. What of the government has a secret contract with google to use google as a surveillance system to keep better eyes on its people and to help catch criminals who may be logged into google? Whether or not its true it is an interesting thought and could be true. Google tracking makes me very wary and uncomfortable. We need to have some sort of new legislation to help protect us from stuff such as this. It is an extreme invasion of privacy and in my eyes is even border line stalking. I would love to see change on this matter.

  9. Daniel McNulty May 3, 2019 at 7:09 pm #

    From the beginning of the semester to now, my eyes have been opened on how much big tech companies invade on everyone’s privacy. We have been given countless articles to choose from on the course blog, of so many different incidents in which companies such as Facebook have been shown to invade on peoples’ privacy. The companies that seem to constantly reappear are Facebook, and Google. Many companies share and sell data to each other, as an advantage for different types of things such as advertising and job listings for instance. Most recently, it is apparent that those who use Google and their resources such as Google Maps could be having their privacy taken away once again. Google is now able to track every single move that you make as long as you have your device on you, which most of us do. This is something that Google should not be able to do, as many ask “why do they want to know my every move?”, which is without a doubt a more than fair question. In order to prevent Google from following your every move, you must go through a list of steps, turning off different preferences in the settings, making it somewhat complicated. This is something that has been seen more and more recently, and is something that needs to be put under control, as our privacy is in jeopardy.

  10. David Torres May 3, 2019 at 8:49 pm #

    From just attending Professor Shannon’s class regularly, I learned so much about the dangers and exploitations that big technology companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook use in order to track just about our every move. Learning about the negatives of these companies has made me lose hope in a world where people did not have to worry about issues regarding their privacy. The amount of information that these companies know about us is something to be concerned about. Although these companies will not stop exploiting our privacy in every way that they can, we have many things we can incorporate into our devices, apps, and technology, in general, to help limit the amount of information that these companies are able to gather. One useful tool is called a VPN. I personally already use a VPN for my current part-time job in which I have to connect to every time I enter a shift. Additionally, with a VPN, you enable the location services to show that you are in a completely different part of the world. I can see this as a very useful tool when defending yourself of privacy exploitation from these large companies. Another useful tool is to use a laptop camera blocker, in which hackers will be unable to see you through your laptop camera, even when you do not have it enabled. This is a very useful tool to have because I don’t think anyone wants to watch as they work on their laptop for hours on end by creepy individuals that find it amusing, And lastly, to avoid giving away all your information to these companies, just avoid using these companies’ services overall. This will then eliminate all future problems related to privacy exploitation of you. It is surprising to know that many people in today’s day and age are unaware of the amount of information that these big tech companies know about them. However, with the amount of information that is known by these companies about you, it is best to utilize all the tools at your disposal to protect not only your privacy but also your life.

  11. Sydney Wilhalme May 20, 2019 at 9:22 pm #

    Maybe your phone storing this type of information is not a bad thing. The article explains how your phone records your locations, photos, and things such as internet searches but, maybe this is a bad thing. Yes, it can be a little creepy sometimes when you are looking throughout the internet and something you looked at pops up on the side as an ad but, is this really all bad. Things like this get you better search criteria and show you items that you are more likely to want to see. I don’t see this as bad but, yet a better way to shop on the internet. This doesn’t just benefit you but, the seller too. Before it was just about paid for your ad to be seen but, not thanks to this technology smaller business will be seen by the customer that would purchase their goods. In doing so this will help boast eh economy by putting more money into the money supply. Along with Google using your internet search items, it also remembers your location throughout the day. To most, this is another creepy way a phone tracks you but, is it creepy or does it improve your everyday safety? Most people think I don’t need a phone to tell me where I was, I am fully aware of where I was but, this isn’t the case for everyone. For example, say you bought your grandfather a smartphone as most people do nowadays. If your grandfather visits the same locations every week at about the same times the phone will record this for you. If one day he leaves his cellphone at home and you cannot find him, checking the phones’ locations to see what he does on Tuesdays will give you a good idea of where to look for him. Thus, allowing you to find your grandfather quicker. This could especially be important for people in the early stages of dementia. Or in another example in a child kidnapping the police find the phone before the child you can pinpoint exactly where the child was taken; giving some direction of who may have taken them. Like someone they know if they were at home or anyone in the world if they were in a public area. Everyone is so quick to judge and say it is creepy they google knows where you are at any given point in a day but, no one ever stops to think about what good that could do for them. I do agree at first it can seem very creepy and make you wonder where this information is going but, maybe the information being saved can help save someone that is in danger. Or just do something super simple like showing ads that fit what you would want to shop for.

  12. Nicole Briones May 24, 2019 at 10:12 pm #

    Many of us tend to allow different websites access to our location for different reasons. These reasons can range from getting to a destination to trying to find a restaurant nearest to you. Although we may think this is all that this approval is doing, it is much more than that and this article really explains how invasive these location services are. Google stores your location history nearly every second of the day, which is extremely invasive and having to go through two different steps in order to turn this feature off is questionable. Allowing a software to store such private information such as where you are at all times of the day is very unsafe. Data breaches are not an uncommon event with Google. Recently, Google+ exposed 52.5 million users in a large- scale data breach. Knowing this, I do not feel safe knowing that Google has my location at all times of the day and even stores it. The possibility of another data breach exposing this kind of information can be very unsafe especially for victims of stalking or domestic abuse. Geolocation can tell a lot about a person. It can tell the places they visit which can lead to assumptions about who they are by what they do and where they go daily. I recently read a similar article published in the New York Times about stalkers tracking their victims by using different apps. It explained how some people use these apps to digitally monitor their spouses to see if they are cheating or not. Location services can play a huge role in these situations, and the person who is being tracked does not even need to have this app or give consent.
    Knowing that all these features and apps exist makes me question how safe I really am. I personally use location services for absolutely everything especially when it comes to finding directions and even knowing this information, I will most likely not turn this feature off because it is so convenient. This being said, if something were to happen regarding any data breach that can question my safety due to having my location services on, would I be responsible? Knowing this information, should I have to use this feature at my own risk? Even having these questions run through my head is extremely uncomfortable. This also makes me think that iPhones and other cell phone brands and providers should have options and take extra precaution and measures to help minimize this invasion. They should also implement security protection measures to help reduce the number of apps that can prevent any digital monitoring to occur without consent. The digital monitoring events that can occur include wiretapping and hacking. Stalking is a top warning sign for attempted homicide in domestic violence case. This being said, are these apps and features helping people commit crimes and feed into their obsessions? This is an extremely controversial topic. Location services can be extremely helpful for users like myself who need it to get around and find the nearest places, but it can also contribute to such dark actions such as stalking.
    One other topic I thought about was location services being essential for apps such as Uber and Lyft. These apps rely on using your exact locations and destinations to make money. Uber has recently had a data breach that let out many of their customer’s personal information. This being said, if someone really wanted to, they can hack into Uber and Lyft to help find the exact locations of people. These apps can also be extremely dangerous because as said before, they can contribute to very dark actions like stalking that can lead to something even worse like kidnapping or murder.
    In conclusion, I do not feel safe even knowing that my location and location history can be made public at any time. All it takes is a simple data breach or even someone attempting to hack into my phone to get this information and threaten my safety. Therefore, cell providers and companies should make an effort to increase security and have preventative measures. Google should also try to change this feature by not allowing it to store and save your locations without permission. They should also be conscious of the fact that these features can lead to crimes and threaten their consumers’ safety in various different ways. As convenient as having your location services turned on is, it can definitely do more harm than good in a number of different ways.

  13. Samantha Begley June 7, 2019 at 5:07 pm #

    In this day and age privacy is constantly being questioned, our phones, computers even smart speakers, people continue to worry about whether their personal information is being used through companies’ databases with these devices. Before I read this article, I had an idea that Google must have some way to figure out a way to store what I am searching, but not to the extent of tracking my location. Information that I look up on Google’s web search would come up on other apps such as Instagram and Facebook but what good is having my location?

    My parents swear up and down that Alexa, the Amazon Echo, listens to them when they do not realize, and collect information that will later come up on their Facebook feed, and after reading this article, they are not completely wrong. According to an article on the Washington Post, Alexa keeps a copy of everything after it hears its name. So not only is Amazon trying to collect information to their advantage to accommodate to their consumers but Google also has this notion. I feel as though Google goes too far on tracking location. Due to google being able to keep a log of everywhere I go when I use google apps, makes me no want to use their applications they offer. It is an invasion of privacy and having to be aware of my own privacy being taken away from me is not what I, as a consumer, want to hear about a company I constantly use day to day.

    Not only is it worrying that they track individual’s location, but to not have this awareness out in the public more, unless people stumble upon articles like this one, is very frustrating. Now that I am aware of my location being tracked and how to delete its history, I will continue to do it, so I feel as though my privacy was not interfered with. But this sort of information I feel should be made more aware to the public so it can be something people do more consistently. Google is going to possibly cause a lot of consumers to sway away from their products, even considering how large they are. With Apple as their big competitor it seems they need to follow the lead of other companies with keeping individual’s privacy to their own and not use it to their advantage. Hopefully these big companies see the damage they are doing by invading privacy and I hope to see a change.

  14. Brandon Cassidy June 13, 2019 at 9:41 am #

    The fact that google collects so much data from its users is not really new information. We have all known that technology companies collect a lot of data from users. I think most people just don’t realize what information is being collected and how the information is being used. In this article the author is talking about the creepy level of detail that google stores based on location. This may bother a lot of people, but it is very helpful to other people as well. I think it bothers people because people do not want this information to get into the wrong hands which could have severe consequences. It is also helpful to some individuals because it makes it easier for people to see where there travelling and the fastest route to get there. Another benefit of googles service is the fact that it knows where you park your car. This is a very creepy level of detail, but it is very helpful when you park in a crowded parking lot at a mall or sports stadium.

    There are clearly two sides to this debate and I am sure the majority does not like what google is doing here. I think that the people who don’t like what google is doing need to realize that they agree to terms and conditions before they start using google apps or services. This totally justifies what google is doing so if a user does not read the contract before they agree to the terms and conditions it is the users own fault. Following this, users also have the ability to turn off googles location services which gives power back to the users. This debate on how data is stored and used will continue to grow but I think that the main topic of this debate should really be focused on how the data is secured. As long as this data is completely secured I do not think that anyone has anything to worry about. If technology companies can completely secure users’ data, then no one has to worry about his or her information getting into the wrong hands.

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