WASHINGTON (Circa) -- Google may be tracking your location, even if you have location tracking turned off on your account.
An investigation by the Associated Press found that simply turning off location history on an account does not completely prevent the tech giant from tracking your movements. Google accounts also have a "Web & App Activity" section which also tracks a user's location when Google apps and other services are used. That option is turned on by default and must be manually paused by the user.
"Users are not being unreasonable if they think this is not the most transparent way to have structured preferences," Julian Sanchez, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute who specializes in security in privacy, told Circa.
A Google spokesperson defended the company's policy when reached for comment.
"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," said the spokesperson.
Google's Privacy & Terms statement reflects the spokesperson's point, noting the company may "collect and use a few types of information -- depending on the products and features you’re using -- to provide you with a more useful experience on Google." That means Google can use your location to suggest things that may be of some interest. All of these locations, as well as a user's search and browsing history, are listed on myactivity.google.com. Google uses locations from My Activity to target ads, according to AP.
If you want to ensure Google is not tracking any of your movement, you must manually disable Web & App Activity in addition to turning off Location History.
To do that, click on the "Activity Controls" section on the left column of your My Activity page.
After that, click the button associated with Web & App Activity so that it is gray. If you've done everything correctly, it should now say Web & App Activity is "paused."
Keep in mind, however, that doing this could limit your experience with Google Assistant, according to AP.