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Every move you make, every step you take, Google’s tracking you




The Google Maps app is seen on an Apple iPhone 4S on December 13, 2012 in Fairfax, California.
The Google Maps app is seen on an Apple iPhone 4S on December 13, 2012 in Fairfax, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Google wants to know where you go so badly that it records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to.

An Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.

For the most part, Google is upfront about asking permission to use your location information. An app like Google Maps will remind you to allow access to location if you use it for navigating. If you agree to let it record your location over time, Google Maps will display that history for you in a “timeline” that maps out your daily movements.

The company will let you “pause” a setting called Location History. Google says that will prevent the company from remembering where you’ve been. Google’s support page on the subject states: “You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.” That isn’t true. Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking.

We discuss the investigation, as well as the privacy and security concerns.

With files from the Associated Press.

We reached out to Google and their spokesperson sent us this statement:

"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 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."

Guests:

K. Shankari, a graduate researcher at UC Berkeley in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department; she studies the commuting patterns of volunteers in order to help urban planners

Ryan Nakashima, technology writer for the Associated Press; he investigated and wrote the AP exclusive “Google watches your movements, like it or not;” he tweets @rnakashi

Sean O'Brien, a lecturer in Law and founder of Yale Privacy Lab at Yale Law School; his expertise includes cybersecurity, privacy, and mobile device forensics