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Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
October 2018

What happens when you turn off Location History on your android device or iPhone? Does Google stop storing your location data? No, it continues to store your location data, just more discreetly.

Kalyanaraman Shankari, a graduate researcher at UC Berkeley, alerted the Associated Press to this issue. She had turned Location History off on her android phone, but was still asked to rate a shopping trip to Kohl’s department store.

“So how did Google Maps know where I was?” she asked in a blog post.

The AP conducted an investigation and found that even when you tell Google not to use your Location History, some Google apps will still store time-stamped location data without your explicit permission. For example, a snapshot of your location is automatically stored when you open Google Maps. Weather updates also gauge and store your location.

Google claims that it’s not being deceptive. Users, it says, can turn off all location data storing by turning off Location History, as well as another setting called “Web and App Activity,” which is enabled by default.

Shankari nevertheless wishes Google would be more up-front. “I am not opposed to background location tracking in principle,” she said. “It just really bothers me that it is not explicitly stated.”


Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]

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