back to article Google keeps tracking you even when you specifically tell it not to: Maps, Search won't take no for an answer

Google has admitted that its option to "pause" the gathering of your location data doesn’t apply to its Maps and Search apps – which will continue to track you even when you specifically choose to halt such monitoring. Researchers at Princeton University in the US this week confirmed on both Android handhelds and iPhones that …

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            1. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: yeah, no...

              @jelabarre95

              Some data seems to suggest location data is cached and send in blocks in that case. So this doesn't necessarily mean your location data is safe.

          1. Ballast

            Re: yeah, no...

            In the Tech Crunch article on Apple revamping their maps (https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/29/apple-is-rebuilding-maps-from-the-ground-up/) they say they don't record the start or end of a journey, then randomly selection sections of the middle part of the journey not its entirety.

            Still, you're relying on a comapany to tell the truth. You'll always get burned and not even because they might be malicious.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Re: yeah, no...

              Sure, any company can lie but what is Apple's incentive to lie about this? They have been marketing based on privacy more and more, and they'd lose that if they were found to be lying.

              Even if they wanted to secretly collect personal information they don't have any way to effectively monetize it. Where's their massive advertising network like Google and Facebook have? Where's their store that sells tens of millions of different items from hundreds of thousands of vendors all over the world like Amazon?

              Google, Facebook and Amazon don't collect personal information for no reason, they do it because their business model requires it. The only other reason to store a bunch of personal information about your users is if you have a lot of idle disk space you want to fill up.

            2. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: yeah, no...

              Gather enough relatively short journeys and all those "middle" parts will center around the "home" location and will allow extrapolation of atleast a quite narrow area where it is located.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        > Back in the real world, apple are doing the same, collecting location data from iPhones to build up the Apple maps dataset, it's not optional.

        The data Apple collect for their maps can't be identified back to any individual user. It's anomynised and can't be de-anomynised because of mathematical techniques such as Differential Privacy.

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google takes revenge

    Gotta be anonymous for this one...

    Google has been bombarding me with ads for Russian mail order brides. I clicked the no-thank-you buttons to no avail. Only change is that I then got ads for overweight Russian mail order brides.

    So I took to the settings panel and unchecked the box that "offered" tailored (huh?) ads. It did not take much time for Google to serve up its revenge: now I am bombarded with ads for gay dating sites and services.

    The situation is so crazy I cannot be logged into my own account if I want to search for people looking over my shoulders.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google takes revenge

      Does it always do this? Or does it only do it when you're on a particular network? If it happens everywhere, I can't help you, but if it only happens at work or at home, then you should stand up, look around, and decide which of those people are generating the hits causing you to get those ads.

      I can always tell when my girlfriend's kids have ordered something online... youtube on the two tv's and the old-phone-used-as-a-remote will show me ads for what they've just purchased for a week or so. I can also tell when my girlfriend discovers some new tv show....all i get are ads for that new show.

      On the other hand, I use the tv's web browser to use google to search for bondage gear, piercing equipment, guns, knives, and explosives... so, we're even.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Google takes revenge

        >Does it always do this? Or does it only do it when you're on a particular network?

        It happens everywhere when I am logged in to my Google account or have done so on the machine I am working on. Google seems to track where I have been.

        >If it happens everywhere, I can't help you, but if it only happens at work or at home, then you should stand up, look around, and decide which of those people are generating the hits causing you to get those ads.

        Oh I know how it started. A friend of mine sent me an email saying I should get married and if I couldn't get a girlfriend, she was sure there would be Russian girls available. Google took the hint and ran with it. As in ever since.

        1. stiine Bronze badge
          Devil

          Re: Google takes revenge

          I'll have to try that. I'll set up a new email at work and send myself something....now how do i choose a subject so that every future add is for Bali, Victoria's Secret, nude beaches, Follies Atlanta, or The Cheetah....hmmm.

          1. onefang Silver badge

            Re: Google takes revenge

            "now how do i choose a subject so that every future add is for Bali, Victoria's Secret, nude beaches, Follies Atlanta, or The Cheetah"

            Subject - Victoria, from Atlanta, told me about a secret nude beach in Bali, where she saw a cheetah.

    2. WolfFan Silver badge

      Re: Google takes revenge

      I used to - note the past tense - use a Gmail account as my El Reg ID. last week I attempted to use my MS Outlook app on my laptop to read that account. Apparently MS Outlook is ‘not secure’ and my account was locked out because ‘Google could not verify that you are the owner of this account’. My major crime appears to have failed to log in to the web interface for several years, having set up IMAP for the account and exclusively using ‘insecure’ apps such as Thunderbird, MS Outlook, and Apple Mail rather than the superior, and ad-ridden and/or location-blabbing Google products.

      I now have a Zoho account, and all who I know who have (had) Gmail accounts are switching to Zoho or similar. Because I had set up IMAP, I can retrieve mail prior to Google’s hissy fit. This account was a throwaway for use with web fora, so it didn’t get much mail in the first place, mostly password reset messages and such. I’ve changed all the fora which used to use this account. Say buh-bye, now...

      1. VinceH Silver badge

        Re: Google takes revenge

        "because ‘Google could not verify that you are the owner of this account’."

        Yeah, I've had that recently - but not for gmail, but logging in to my Google account via the web to look at a Docs spreadsheet. Well, when I say my account, I mean one of them...

        A couple of years ago I created a separate one to my own for use at a particular client, so they could share docs with me; since it was a use specific to them, I used my email address that I have with them. But - just as with my own account - I log-in *very* rarely.

        When I did a couple of weeks ago, even though I had the password absolutely right, I got locked out because "Google could not verify..." - part of that verification, though, was that they allegedly sent an email to me with a code in. That email didn't arrive until much later.

        I think it's a couple of things at issue - very rare log-ins and the lack of cookie persistence. Google never recognises my machine, because there's no history there.

        (I got around the problem at the time by going to someone else's computer, and simply accessing the sheet from there, using his account - so, er, yeah...)

      2. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: Google takes revenge

        I set up postfix, dovecote on a core2 duo. Let's encrypt deals with the certificate issue.

        No ads.

        Surprisingly little spam too, even without any clever spam filtering.

        Mostly I see smtp auth attempted on port 25, but no one seems to bother with 587.

        I too got the blocked access message from google for another account. They wanted my telephone number. That behaviour just speeds my migration.

    3. Magani
      Unhappy

      Re: Google takes revenge

      Google has been bombarding me with ads for Russian mail order brides.

      Google has ads? Really?? I wonder if the little ABP icon at the top of my browser is the reason I don't get them...

      Seriously, I get a bit cheesed off with Big G asking me to 'help' with a particular company when I use 'OK Google, Navigate to Madam Lash's House of Fun' on my phone.

      A week or so ago (without asking for navigation on my phone) I visited a jewellery that was adjacent to a Thai Restaurant. Google wanted my ideas on the restaurant after I left the jeweler's.

      Methinks turning off data and GPS may be the only way to circumvent this?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Google takes revenge

        > Methinks turning off data and GPS may be the only way to circumvent this?

        That is not enough. The baseband unit is still in contact with basestations in order to let you set up a call. And that allows them to triangulate you. If, on the other hand, you turn on flight mode, you will be off the grid and Google cannot triangulate you.

        > Seriously, I get a bit cheesed off with Big G asking me to 'help' with a particular company when I use 'OK Google, Navigate to Madam Lash's House of Fun' on my phone.

        Mmmm, it could be it ocnfuses your name "Magani" with the more well known "Magnanti".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Google takes revenge

          If, on the other hand, you turn on flight mode, you will be off the grid and Google cannot triangulate you.

          ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          If you have wifi on, Google will match visible SSIDs against their database of SSIDs which have been seen by their cars, or by Android phones, or maybe phones running Google apps (not sure on the last, but they probably try).

          If they use the right methods, they should also get 'invisible' SSIDs.

          Between what can be seen, and signal strengths, they should be able to locate you at least as accurately as with cell towers.

          That data can't be uploaded until you connect to something... but it will be stored.

      2. Argh

        Re: Google takes revenge

        You can stop being asked for contributions in Maps by going to:

        Settings > Notifications > Your Contributions

        Or if you're on Android Oreo, you can configure the app's notification channels instead.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Google takes revenge

          Or uninstall/disable Maps and use a GDPR-compliant alternative.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Google takes revenge

            Google maps is GDPR compliant. You just agreed to it.

            If you have trouble understanding the difference between non-compliance and permission, ask a grown up for assistance.

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: Google takes revenge

              Just because you opened the Maps application and in Google's eyes supposedly therefore agreed to the current opt-out default settings and all new opt-out settings which appear in future Maps updates, it doesn't make it GDPR compliant.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Google takes revenge

              "If you have trouble understanding the difference between non-compliance and permission, ask a grown up for assistance."

              If you have difficulty understanding the difference between opt-in and opt-out, ask a grown up for assistance.

              Likewise if you have trouble understanding "Avoid making consent to processing a precondition of a service" ( https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/lawful-basis-for-processing/consent/ ) ask a grown up for assistance.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Google takes revenge

            Or uninstall/disable Maps and use a GDPR-compliant alternative.

            === === ====

            Suggestions, please?

            1. onefang Silver badge

              Re: Google takes revenge

              "Or uninstall/disable Maps and use a GDPR-compliant alternative.

              === === ====

              Suggestions, please?"

              I use Osmand, others have been mentioned here.

      3. Rbn

        Re: Google takes revenge

        Disable location history and/or Google maps location permissions, it's maps that suggests these "what did you think of ..." Requests (as far as I know)

      4. 's water music Silver badge

        Re: Google takes revenge

        Methinks turning off data and GPS may be the only way to circumvent this?

        I inadvertently disabled GPS the other day via the settings shortcut on my lollipop device. I couldn't work out why Stava couldn't get a fix because it appeared as if it was not getting a signal rather than it was disabled. At one point I fired up maps for comparison. It was able to get a fix ok which set my troubleshooting efforts back until I eventually spotted what I had done

    4. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: AC

      Google knows what you want. It has all that data on you. Are you saying the big Google in the sky is wrong and you don't want a male order bride? Blasphemy!

  2. Mephistro Silver badge
    Flame

    I spy with my little eye...

    Hint: the first letter is an 'F'.

    The solution, below.

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    All right, the answer is FOUR PERCENT OF GLOBAL TURNOVER!

    1. Arctic fox
      Thumb Up

      @ Mephistro Re: I spy with my little eye...

      "All right, the answer is FOUR PERCENT OF GLOBAL TURNOVER!"

      Once a fucking month, every fucking month until they stop fucking doing it!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I spy with my little eye...

      "All right, the answer is FOUR PERCENT OF GLOBAL TURNOVER!"

      How soon before they figure out a way to legally have NO turnover?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lets recap on recent Google *Location* Crimes

    ~~~~~

    www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/22/permissionless_data_slurping_google/

    ~~~~~

    There are no menu options. No choices to protect you. Its all fake control.

    So why doesn't Kieran refer back to Andrew's article, left hand/right hand?

    These are white collar crimes... But when you get to write your own Laws...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google keeps tracking you even when you specifically tell it not to

    I don't understand why anyone would be surprised by this.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Google keeps tracking you even when you specifically tell it not to

      reminds me of THIS

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Google keeps tracking you even when you specifically tell it not to

      Indeed. They use your IP address, the WiFi point, perhaps mobile base (not sure). Since I know where I am and rarely go anywhere and can read my large selection of maps, I don't use Google Maps or Google Search (the one not in a Browser). I have them disabled. It's icing on cake for Google if your GPS is on. I have that off too as I don't wander about outside or sit at windows. GPS is 1.4GHz and from Satellites, so rarely works indoors away from windows.

      I've known that Google is maliciously gathering personal info for years. The WiFi data capture during Street View driving was part of it. They don't need that now with so many phones running Android with BT, WiFI and Mobile data left on. I only turn on WiFi when using Play Store/Updates/Viber, maybe less than 10 min a day on average. Rarely ever use Mobile Data. It's not just Google. I took off Kindle app and use a different eReader. It was generating popup errors about unable to connect even when I'd not used it since last power on. Aggressive fetching of Advert content and reporting in Apps. So now I don't use ones that do that. I only use BT (enable) on phone/laptop to test a gadget. BT Keyboards inferior to USB. BT earphones or audio adaptor to HiFi inferior to 3.5mm stereo jack + cable due to extra latency & extra codec pair.

      It's terribly sad that we have to cripple the use of our own gadgets due to Corporate greed and dishonesty. Did you know that Luddites didn't oppose machinery? They thought that instead of lower pay and worse conditions (weaving), the Industrialists making much more profit from mechanisation and automation (Jacquard programming, automatic shuttle etc even without steam) should actually treat the workers better than home manual weavers.

  5. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Nobody saw this coming?

    Come on - anyone with half a brain knew that they were doing this. The T&C always says "no we don't" on the first page and about page 69 it mentions that some data may be needed to debug, aid your support, etc etc ... and we all clicked OK on the first page.

    This is the way the world works these days.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Nobody saw this coming?

      "This is the way the world works these days."

      because too many "sheeple" roll over and let it happen

      1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

        Re: Nobody saw this coming?

        Sheep have a surprisingly complex social life and structure and it is a very poor pejorative to apply to human beings. It does however say more about your thought processes than it does about others and is thus useful. Have a nice day!

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Nobody saw this coming? @Geoffrey W

          From personal experience, if you're trying to move a flock of sheep from one place to another, it is quite often the case that if you can get a couple to to move with purpose to where you want them to go, most of the rest of the herd will follow.

          I've not done any in depth sociological research, but I have moved herds of sheep hundreds of times when my farther-in-law owned a sheep farm...

          1. Mage Silver badge

            Re: Nobody saw this coming? @Geoffrey W

            Goats are tricker.

            Don't bother trying to herd programmers.

  6. Lorribot

    Privacy? Get over it.

    "if people really wanted Google not to know where they are every second of every day, they would of course" never use anything made, owned, designed or in anyway interact with google, if you do its all your fault for being stupid and relying on governments to stop this happening and safeguard your privacy, because in Googles world you have no privacy so get over it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Privacy? Get over it.

      So you might as well just go full Luddite and retreat to the mountains...oh wait, Google has its hands in land survey satellites, too (Google Earth), so no escape there, either.

  7. James 51 Silver badge

    What happens if you don't put a Google account on the phone? I imagine that they create an anon account until they figure out who you are and combine the data sets.

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      What happens if you don't put a Google account on the phone?

      AFAIK, if it's an Android phone then you can't use it - it just won't let you configure the phone and use it without signing into a Google account.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What happens if you don't put a Google account on the phone?

        AFAIK, if it's an Android phone then you can't use it - it just won't let you configure the phone and use it without signing into a Google account.

        You can in fact use the android phone without signing into a google account. If it is a new phone, you can skip the google account login at the start. The downside (upside?) is you can't use the play store and other google api required apps. App installation here will only work by sideloading.

        This is also why fundamentally AOSP, lineageOS and other custom rom can work perfectly without google apps.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "This is also why fundamentally AOSP, lineageOS and other custom rom can work perfectly without google apps."

          OK, know one that doesn't trip dm-verity?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Totally untrue.

        You have always been able to use Android without a Google account. You just cancel the Google sign-up on first boot.

        iPhone doesn't have the same feature, an apple account is mandatory.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Utter nonsense, you can choose to set it up later on first run and never set it up.

          Meanwhile Play Services is still in the background, slurping dafa, only you can't change the default settings Google does deign to offer because you don't have an account.

          1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

            I stand corrected - it's a long time since I last set one up, and I don't recall seeing any way to avoid signing into a google account.

            But you raise an important point - all those systems (Google isn't alone) where the only way to opt out of something is to sign into an online account (that you have to create, and agree to their ToS in doing so). So in order to opt out of something undesirable or even illegal, you have to enter into a contract allowing them to do it - and thus making it legal.

            1. James 51 Silver badge

              @SLmon, sounds like a breach of GDPR there.

            2. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Sorry if it was unclear, I was replying to the AC above me.

  8. Mark 85 Silver badge

    "...to improve people's experience..."

    This has to be the most overused BS of marketing phrases. It's about improving Google's marketing paycheck. Full Stop. They've gone far beyond mere evil to the point that I fear that they own the darkside.

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