Am I the only one who didn’t know that Google was tracking and saving my every move?
Don’t believe me? Check out this link: https://maps.google.com/locationhistory/b/0. That shows everywhere you’ve gone today according to the GPS signal of your Android. It also shows the time you went to each location and the places you stopped.
Now look at the calendar in the top right corner. You can use that calendar to scroll back through years of your life (for as long as you’ve had an Android). Want to know what you were doing on January 1, 2013? It’s just a few clicks away.
As you can see from the above picture, I spent the night of New Year’s Eve, 2013 (early morning January 1) being the designated driver ferrying my friends to a house party across the city and then driving to each of their houses to drop them off.
Some people find this scary, while others find it cool. Personally, I don’t have a problem with Google tracking my location. It’s fun to look back at vacations, for example, or remember a restaurant you went to on a particular weekend.
But some people aren’t as cool with Google tracking their every move. If you’re one of these people, then I’m going to show you how to disable Google Maps location tracking.
Step 1) Go to this URL: https://maps.google.com/locationhistory/b/0/settings
Step 2) Click Disable on the right hand side of the page
Step 3) Click Save
Google will still monitor your location (provided GPS is enabled on your phone). But it won’t persistently save your location data over time.
You can also delete individual location entries by clicking on that data point and then clicking Delete from history.
If you don’t want Google to see your location at all, then you’ll need to disable GPS as well as your wireless signal. Google can now use wireless networks to track your location, although this location data tends to be less accurate than GPS.
Yes, you should have security concerns
Google shares your location data with its advertising partners. Apps that have been granted permission to look at your location will also be able to view your current location – although not your location history.
The major security concern is if someone gains access to your Google account, then they can see all of the locations you’ve visited over the past few years. If you’re a top secret nuclear researcher traveling to remote nuclear storage facilities (or maybe a cheating spouse), then this may be a concern.
If you’re a loser like me who drives to the coffee shop and back a few times a week, then location tracking is probably not a big deal. And you should have already enabled 2 factor authentication on your Google account anyway in order to prevent unwanted people from accessing the account.
I always knew Google was tracking my location. I just didn’t know they saved that data and let you access it. Cool? Scary? Big Brother-ish? It’s up to you to decide.