Google tracks your location even when you tell them not to

Google phones track your location – even when you turn Location Services off, even if you use no apps – and surprisingly – even if you have no SIM card and have no cellular service on the phone. (I have an old phone like that which I use as a portable computer for non phone related tasks. I did not realize Google was tracking that phone too.)

Google logs your location internally on the phone, and when you connect to the Internet later on, such as with a WiFi connection, Google uploads the data they have logged to the Google Cloud. Google claims it was part of a feature they never used.

In the past, Google’s Street View mapping vehicles logged all Wi-Fi communications as they drove around, including all data being sent – which could include private but unencrypted communications with web sites. When caught doing this, Google claimed that logging enormous terabytes of data was inadvertent and never intended. Which I always thought called into question their software quality assurance program.

We already knew that Google uses artificial intelligence methods to literally read our emails and build up a database of information about us that they can use for marketing and advertising purposes. A few weeks ago, we learned that Google also reads all of our Google Docs located in the Google Cloud. Literally, Google has implemented the machine equivalent of someone reading our emails and documents – and making notes about our writings.

Starting in September, a phone that is not mine,  which I have never owned, running on a cellular service provider I have never used, became associated with my Google account. I never received any security alerts from Google about this but discovered it on my own when reviewing my account log. I changed my account password and set up 2-factor authentication. In spite of that, their logfiles show this mysterious phone “sync’ing” to my account once more – again, with no security alerts. Google’s log file says “unknown location”. Attempts to locate the phone using “Find my phone” said the phone was not connected to the network. I originally sent “Lock this device” commands to that phone and today went ahead and said “Erase and reset” that phone.

Because of these security problems with Google – and more I have not described such as their logging all web access when you use Chrome – I am abandoning Google services, including the use of Chrome. Changing your email address is very time consuming as you need to log in to every account you have used anywhere (think of e-commerce retailers) and update your email and password information.

But what else can we do? There is no way to contact Google to ask anyone about this mysterious phone said to be synchronizing to my account. There is no explanation from Google how a phone can continue to log in to my account when I have changed the password and requested 2-factor authentication alerts – unless due to a security vulnerability in Google service, their 2-factor authentication for that phone, is going to that phone – and not my actual phone.

This is a massive breach of customer trust and I can no longer rely on Google. I no longer have confidence or trust in Google and you should not either.

 

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