Is Google following your every move?
As it turns out, even when you opt to limit Google's ability to track your location when using its search function or apps, some of your time-stamped location data is still being automatically stored.
TODAY investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen demonstrated Tuesday how your location can be tracked even when you tell Google to stop. He also showed the steps you can take on your phone or desktop to limit Google's ability to store your location information.
An investigation by The Associated Press published Monday revealed that even when users turn "location history" off, Google is still keeping a record of their movements.
Rossen demonstrated by turning his location history off on an Android phone and then taking a trip around New York City to see if he was still being tracked.
When he returned to the office, he checked his Google activity. Even with "location history" turned off, there was still a record on the maps of where he got in a cab and grabbed some coffee.
"We make sure 'location history' users know that when they disable the product, we continue to use location to improve the Google experience,'' Google told NBC News in a statement.
Technology experts say that is misleading and that storing the information is all about Google making money.
The good news is you can take the following steps to protect yourself and limit Google's ability to track you by following these instructions Rossen laid out on TODAY.
- Get on your desktop or cell phone and go to myaccount.google.com.
- Scroll down to "Personal Info and Privacy" and click on "Manage Your Google activity." Click on "Go to Activity Controls."
- Turn off "Location History" by sliding the button to the left so it's now gray.
- When it takes you to a second screen, hit "Pause," and then hit the "Pause" button again.
- Scroll up to where it says "Web & App Activity" and turn that off by sliding the button left so it's now gray.
- A second screen appears again, and again you want to hit "Pause." You're all set, and now have limited Google's ability to track you.