Tuesday February 19, 2019
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Google Admits of Tracking Users Even with Their Location “Turned off”

But just turning off Location History doesn't solve the purpose. In Google Settings, pausing "Web and App Activity" may do the trick

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Google users
Google unveils new shopping search features for Indian users. Pixabay

After facing criticism over reports that certain Google apps track users’ whereabouts even when they turn off location data, the tech giant has revised its Help Page, clarifying that it does track location data in order to “improve Google experience”.

Previously, the Help Page stated: “You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”

The page now says: “This setting does not affect other location services on your device, like Google Location Services and Find My Device.

“Some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps”.

The new language confirms that location data is, indeed, being tracked by some Google apps.

“We have been updating the explanatory language about Location History to make it more consistent and clear across our platforms and help centres,” CNET reported on Friday, quoting a Google spokesperson.

Google
Google on a smartphone device. Pixabay

The Associated Press earlier this week ran a story saying an investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store users’ location data even if the users explicitly used a privacy setting forbidding that.

Researchers from Princeton University confirmed the findings.

In an earlier statement, Google had said: “Location History is a Google product that is entirely opt in, and users have the controls to edit, delete or turn it off at any time.

“As the (AP) story notes, we make sure Location History users know that when they disable the product, we continue to use location to improve the Google experience when they do things like perform a Google search or use Google for driving directions.”

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But just turning off Location History doesn’t solve the purpose. In Google Settings, pausing “Web and App Activity” may do the trick.

However, according to the information on Google’s Activity Control page, “Even when this setting is paused, Google may temporarily use information from recent searches in order to improve the quality of the active search session”. (IANS)

Next Story

No Proof our Images showed Pakistan Flag For ‘Toilet Paper’, Says Tech Giant Google

Google algorithms have displayed inappropriate search results on certain topics in the past

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Google, Main One, russia
A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company's offices in Toronto. VOA

Google on Tuesday said that it has found no evidence that its Search algorithms were showing the Pakistani flag when looked for the “best toilet paper in the world”, the “best China-made toilet paper” or just “toilet paper”.

“While we continue to investigate the matter, we have not found any evidence that Google Images was ranking the Pakistani flag in response to this particular search,” a company spokesperson told IANS.

“Many news outlets wrote about an old screenshot from a meme website that is inconsistent with our UI (user interface) and dates back to 2017, and we have not seen any independent verification that these results ever appeared as depicted,” the spokesperson added.

Earlier, media reports said a glitch on Google Search results was noticed after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack that left 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers dead.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai. (Wikimedia Commons)

Screenshots of the search results went viral as memes, posts and status updates on several social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“Since these news stories published, images from those articles are now ranking for this query, as the pages contain words relevant to the search,” said the Google spokesperson.

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Google algorithms have displayed inappropriate search results on certain topics in the past.

Earlier, searching words like “Feku”, “Pappu” and “Idiot” led users to the images of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and US President Donald Trump, respectively. (IANS)