Ways Google Tracks You and How You Can Disable It! | TechBuzz

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From Gmail and Google Photos to Google searches and other online activities, the tech giant tracks your every move. Almost everything connected to Google (hardware and software) collects your personal data.

However, the tech giant insists it isn’t spying on you with malicious intent. Instead, your collected data is used to improve the performance of its services and tools.

Why and how does Google collect information about you?

One of the reasons why Google collects and tracks your personal data is to provide and send targeted advertisements of various products and services that may correspond to your daily needs. Google can do this by checking your gender, age range, occupation or employment. According to security experts, Google, Facebook and other tech giants engage in these practices to harvest user data for targeted advertising. But the good news is that you can prevent the search giant from tracking your online activities.

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Before you do that, it’s important to know how Google actually collects and tracks your personal data.

The most searched terms in Croatia on the Google search engine in 2020

Google search

By far, Google’s most popular tool is its search engine. However, it is also the one that mostly collects your personal information. Almost everything you do online is tracked by cookies. This may sound alarming, but tracking users’ online activities is critical to a smooth web experience. Data tracking usually occurs after you sign in with your Google Account in Chrome and the web browser starts collecting data using various means, such as server logs, data caches, pixel tags, browser web storage, the aforementioned cookies, and more.

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The type of data Google collects includes search terms, content and ads you view and interact with, activity on third-party websites and apps that use the Google platform, location data, and your Chrome browsing history that is synced through your Google Account.

Google uses this data to offer users customized services, such as ads and content, and to create new services, improve existing ones, for data and analytical purposes, and to protect Google and its users. You can rely on incognito mode to avoid adding your searches to your browsing history, but it still won’t provide complete anonymity.

google assistant

Google Assistant or Google Assistant

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Powered by Google, the artificial intelligence virtual assistant lets you control your phone or smart home devices with voice commands, voice device controls, and voice search.

According to Google’s privacy policy, the company collects “voice and audio information” so that the company can personalize ads for you or offer related content like YouTube videos. That being said, it’s safe to say that any audio information captured by Google Assistant is likely to be collected for business purposes. Furthermore, Google pays extra attention to details such as language and country of origin, as well as all searches and other Google Account-related activities performed through the tool. The search giant’s motivation for tracking your activity in Assistant is to improve the tool’s speech recognition performance.

However, Assistant’s behavior is far from abnormal in the world of technology. Siri, Alexa, and other virtual assistant services also track every word. Despite the widespread practice, knowing that your personal data is being tracked can seem like an invasion of privacy to many.

google-maps-GOOGLE KARTE

Google Karte

Most of the coordinates you enter into Google Maps end up being stored in Google’s database, allowing the company to track yet another aspect of your activities.

Google also collects GPS and other sensor data from your device to provide more accurate location readings and driving directions, as well as serve ads and optimize search results based on your location. Even your IP address and data related to things nearby (like cell towers, gadgets that emit Bluetooth signals, and Wi-Fi access points) are available.

There are other ways Google can track your data using the Maps tool. One of them is through the Google Timeline, a section of maps that shows your previous search activity. Because it syncs with images posted to your Google Photos account, it gives Google access to even more of your private data. In addition, mobile users can share their location data with other people in real time.

Google has previously justified tracking your data in Maps by emphasizing its importance to improving the service. For example, this data may be used to improve community suggestions and other features. Although the tracking of user data drives the functions of the application, the amount and duration of the data stored can be somewhat mitigated by certain account settings. However, the collection of information may still compromise your privacy.


Google Photos

It should come as no surprise that Google tracks user data through the Photos app as well. The company’s privacy policy states that it collects all content created, uploaded or received using any of its services, including images and videos in Photos. On the other hand, none of this information is allegedly used in the creation of personalized advertisements.

Once your images are uploaded to your account, they are automatically processed for face and object recognition. The app then collects information related to your images so that it can efficiently group your photos.

Just like Google Maps, Photos also collects location data. Users can see wherever they are via the app’s dedicated map. If you went on a trip and took photos along the way, they will appear on the map in the Google Photos app.

Photos is a cloud storage service and will upload your files directly to the company’s database. Google also syncs all of your image data across all of your devices to keep it up to date, which can also prove problematic.

internet spying

Google user data breaches

There have been many times that Google’s database has been hacked. The first massive hacking campaign against the tech giant took place in 2009 and was followed by other security breaches, including:

  • hackers backed by China broke into Google’s servers.
  • 2014: Gmail’s database was breached. More than 5 million passwords have been leaked online.
  • app on the Google Play Store was used to infect 1 million Android devices.
  • another major Android hack has occurred. The Gooligan malware is responsible for the attack.
  • more than 500,000 users’ personal data was compromised due to a bug on Google Plus. The flaw was exploited for the second breach, leaking a total of 52.5 million pieces of data.

How to prevent Google from tracking you?

Replacing Google Maps, Photos, and other Google tools or apps is often not the best thing to do, as these services are usually better than other alternatives. But you can adjust some settings on your mobile device or computer to prevent the habit of tracking your company’s location or data.

android phone spying

Disable Google from tracking your location

Deactivating your Location History means that Google no longer knows your locations. This is one of the most effective ways to protect your privacy. To prevent Google from accessing the locations you visit, visit the “My Activity” dashboard.

  • If you’re already signed in with your account, all you have to do is go to the My Activity page in your browser.
  • Click “Location History” to view and control your app and web activity, as well as YouTube history and location history.
  • Tap Devices on this account. This will allow you to see all the devices using your Google Account.
  • Check the box next to the devices you don’t want to track to turn them off.
  • You can also adjust how long Google collects data on your location details. Google offers users the ability to automatically delete history. Click the drop-down menu under “Automatically delete activity older than” and choose whether you want your location history to automatically delete activity older than 3 months, 18 months, or 36 months. Otherwise, click “Do not automatically delete activity” below.

Disable Google personal ads

Disabling “Google Ads Personalization” is another way to prevent tracking. The company lets you choose whether the ads you see are personalized based on things like interests and brand preferences. If “Google Ads Personalization” is disabled, Google will no longer be able to use your personal data to create targeted ads. Here’s how to disable it.

  • Sign in to your Google Account and go to the “Data and Privacy” tab. Scroll down until you reach “Ads Settings”.
  • Click on the “Customize Ads” option to be redirected to another section.
  • Turn off the button next to “Ad customization is ON” if you don’t want Google to continue tracking your activities just to generate targeted ads.

Delete all data and activity stored by Google

Google My Activity offers a quick way to customize and delete all information stored on the platform, regarding web activity, location/YouTube history and advertising personalization. To get rid of all this information, just follow the steps below:

  • Go to your Google My Activity dashboard and sign in if you haven’t already.
  • Click “Delete activity by” in the panel on the left side of the page.
  • A small pop-up window will appear where you can select the date range of activities you want to delete. You can choose from the last hour, last day, all time, or a custom range.

Disable Internet and App Activity

If you don’t want Google to store sensitive data from above, the best thing to do is to deactivate the activity feature entirely. Here’s what you should do:

  • In your Google account, click on “Data and privacy”.
  • Scroll down a bit until you find the Web and App Activity section.
  • Under Web & App Activity, select “Turn Off”. Click “Pause”.
  • Click on “Got it.”
  • On the next panel select “Auto-delete” and select an option.
  • You can choose to automatically delete activity older than 3, 18 or 36 months. Select the desired activity and click “Next”.
  • Click “Confirm”.

It says: DZ

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I am admin of techbuzz.asia blog & I provide tech-related news. As a part of my hobby, I make content related to technology and gadgets reviews too. I love to be a content creator apart from it, I am a full-time employee in an MNC company and manage blogs systematically. You can mail me at [email protected]

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