Google is Watching: Check Out the Location Data Recorded Through Your Smartphone

Google is Watching: Check Out the Location Data Recorded Through Your Smartphone

 

It sounds a bit like something out of a film about a dystopian future, but it’s true - if you’ve got a smartphone with the Google maps app, your movements are being tracked. Most people have their location history enabled without realising it. The function of this setting is to allow Google Maps to run its GPS and record where you travel. You’re probably curious about what your location history looks like. These are the steps to take in order to check out everywhere you’ve been with your smartphone since 2009:

1.Visit this link: https://goo.gl/UoyRdM
2. Select the year or specific date to see your location data for that time

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There is something a little eerie about the idea that your location has been being tracked for the last seven years, and while it’s never been a secret - it’s not exactly common knowledge either. Google is constantly being approached by world governments and law enforcement agencies for information on user data, including location history. In the first six months of 2015, the US government in particular issued 12,523 requests - and that’s just they’re allowed to share. In 79% of cases, some data was shared. There were 1258 requests from Australia during that period, with 70% being granted in some capacity. The kind of information shared by Google is not clear, but location is likely to be requested in many instances. 

Of course, the case can be made that if you aren’t committing any crimes then you don’t need to worry about this kind of data being shared with the government. Google’s official reason for recording your location is to provide you with the information, whether you’re just curious or need to check where you were on a certain date. Location history also enables functions of the Google Maps app such as showing traffic updates for the routes you take often - perhaps your daily commute to work, or to drop the kids at school. Google Now, the AI-based personal assistant application found on Android devices uses the information too, and it allows Google users (all ten of you) to share their location. Finally, you can rate places you’ve been through Google Maps! 

You can opt out of Google's location data, as well as delete that which they've recorded so far - although no word on whether this information stays on their servers. We'll let you know how next week, watch this space!

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