Following an investigation conducted by AP, Google does, in fact, track your location – even if a smartphone user turns off the setting,a shocking revelation to some. It was found that several Google-derived smartphone apps and websites stored user location regardless of what position the “Location History” setting was in, contrary to what the tech giant had people thinking.
Rather than actually cease their location-tracking and data collection practices, Google only revised a platform “help page” that confusedly described how the setting works. According to the report, the page now states: “This setting does not affect other location services on your device,” and acknowledges that, “some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps.”
Beforehand, the page stated: “With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”
The changes come three days after the initial investigation.
Although the wording change seems like a small step in the right direction, according to some, it still does not rectify the problem of people knowing about the false premise Google put up to ensure location storage and collection – and why it is used. Some experts say that Google’s insistence on tracking its users’ locations stems from its drive to boost advertising revenue.
Nevertheless, location data on smartphones has been used in other instances – something the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on weeks ago.
In Carpenter v. United States (2018), which is now the first case to set jurisprudence on phone location data, the Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that law enforcement officers must have a warrant to gather cellphone location data to use as evidence in court trials. The ruling overturned the decision made by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which previously decided that cellphone data was not protected under the Fourth Amendment, therefore, a warrant was not required to collect it.