If you thought Google stopped tracking you after you turned off location services in your phone, think again.
Google’s smartphone services store users’ locations even when privacy settings are adjusted to shut these features off, according to a report by the Associated Press.
While the company asks permission for users to share location information on its applications, it doesn’t halt tracking services when users pause Location History, according to the AP.
Google Maps, for instance, grabs information when a user opens the app, and automatic daily weather updates on Android phones give an approximation of user location.
Computer-science researchers at Princeton University confirmed the Associated Press’s findings.
In other words, Big Google is watching you.
Frederike Kaltheuner, Data Privacy Lead, at Privacy International, says: "There's a discrepancy between what people can understand and what companies are doing. And I think the perfect example is you express your choices, you went the extra way and went through the preferences and decided you don't want location to be tracked, and a company is still tracking you. So, it goes beyond the expectation or the reasonable expectation of people."
Last year, the online news site Quartz revealed that Google was tracking Android users by collecting the addresses of nearby cellphone towers even if location services were off.
There are two billion users of devices that run Google's Android operating software and hundreds of millions iPhone users who rely on Google for maps or search.
Critics have accused the company of using location to boost advertising revenue.