Google is apparently very sneaky.

If you turn off Google’s Location History option (see how, from here), you probably assume the places you go are no longer stored, or that Google is no longer tracking your movements. Wrong. Google still collects location data on a minutely basis, retaining where you live and where you visit at all times, according to an investigative report from the Associated Press. But there's a workaround.

While the AP found that Google can still track you through web services, such as Google Maps ad browser searches, there is a way to get Google to - once and for all - stop tracking you: by going through settings and turning off “Web and App Activity”. You see, by merely turning off Location History, you’re only stopping Google from adding your movements to its visual Timeline feature (more on that here).

What is Web and App Activity?

With Web and App Activity turned on, Google saves your time-stamped location data, though you can manually delete each data point at myactivity.google.com. You can also delete several entries by date or web service. Google is clear about this in its notices to users, but it's fair to assume that most people don't realise there's also something called “Web and App Activity” that collects their location data.

Google's Support page explained that, when Web and App Activity is turned on, your searches and activity from Google services are saved to your Google Account so that you can get "better search results and suggestions". But, if you toggle the option off (it is enabled by default), Google can no longer store where you’ve been from Maps data and browser searches that extract your GPS coordinates.

How to stop Google from tracking you on the web

Turn Web and App Activity on or off

  1. On your computer, visit the Activity controls page.
  2. You may be asked to sign in to your Google Account.
  3. Turn Web and App Activity on or off.

Note: Google said some browsers and devices may have more settings that "affect how this activity is saved".

For more details about how to delete past activities and data that Google has collected, see Google's Support page here.

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