Biking? Google probably knows you are. Up a mountain? It probably knows that, too.
The Alphabet subsidiary’s location-hungry tentacles are quietly lurking behind some of the most innovative features of its Android mobile operating system. Once those tentacles latch on, phones using Android begin silently transmitting data back to the servers of Google, including everything from GPS coordinates to nearby wifi networks, barometric pressure, and even a guess at the phone-holder’s current activity. Although the product behind those transmissions is opt-in, for Android users it can be hard to avoid and even harder to understand. Opting in is also required to use several of Android’s marquee features.
As a result, Google holds more extensive data on Android users than some ever realise. That data can be used by the company to sell targeted advertising. It can also be used to track into stores those consumers who saw ads on their phone or computer urging them to visit.1 This also means governments and courts can request the detailed data on an individual’s whereabouts.
Your Location History
Android users can check some of the information Google has collected about them by looking at “Your timeline” in Google Maps. These instructions show how to turn off Location History entirely.
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