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Google Clarifies Location-Tracking Policy, Updates Help Page

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While Google hasn’t changed how its location tracking works, it has edited a help page explaining the system.

According to a new report from the Associated Press, Google has revised a help page about its Location History setting, clarifying that the setting “does not affect other location services on your device” and that “some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps.”

Before Thursday’s edit, the page stated “the places you go are no longer stored” with the Location History setting shut off.

Google acknowledged the change: “We have been updating the explanatory language about Location History to make it more consistent and clear across our platforms and help centers,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

The change came three days after the Associated Press published an investigation revealing several Google apps and services stored user location data regardless of the Location History setting.

Google’s justification was that it clearly spells out the purpose and functionality of Location History. “There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services,” the company told AP in response to AP’s findings.

“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,” it added.

To stop Google from tracking your location history, users have to disable a setting called “Web and App Activity” which is enabled by default. This setting does not explicitly state that it uses location tracking. However, it does store a variety of information from Google apps and websites to users’ Google account.

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