Digital Gabe
Cutting Edge Commentary On All Things Media

Google Can’t Stop Spying On You

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I’ve held off covering this story over the last few weeks because it didn’t seem like that big of a deal at first, but now things are starting to heat up.  On August 13th AP broke the story that Google could still track your location by using smartphones with its Android operating system, even if you turn off the Location History setting.  According to Google “Users can turn off Location History at any time.  With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”  Sounds simple enough, but that might not be accurate.  According to some tech activists in California, Google can still track a phone’s location even with the History setting turned off.  Because of this they’ve filed a class action lawsuit demanding Google stop the practice and seeking unspecified damages.  Google has yet to respond to the complaint.

So why is location tracking important for Google?  Money, of course.  Proximity-based ad delivery is big business in digital media – especially for a search behemoth like Google.  There’s also an entire side industry around proximity attribution, whose vendors can buy Google’s location data instead of having to build their own infrastructure from scratch.

On the user side it’s all about privacy.  Most people generally accept the fact that today’s devices know where we are.  But if you intentionally turn off that feature on your phone isn’t it reasonable to expect that it no longer tracks where you go?  In many peoples’ minds this feels like a flat out deception by Google, which is why there’s a lawsuit in the first place.  I’d tell you to keep an eye on this one, but Google may know that you’re doing so. 🙂

 

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