I just read a number of articles over the weekend and I am still not sure whether I am going to be amazed or creeped out. Several technology journals and publications have started to feature a tool that Google Maps and Google Now uses to apparently monitor and track the movement history of certain persons. What does this mean? It means that if your location history was collected, then Google knows where you were last November 25, 2013 at exactly 1:00 in the morning. So if you were doing something ?nasty? at someplace that is not so ?respectable? at that certain date, time and place, then somebody else knows what you were doing.
Now before you scream ?Damn NSA? and blame Obama once again for being spied upon and losing your privacy, this is not the US government’s fault. And this is not a clandestine operation too. This tool, operated by Google, actually asks permission from you to gather data from your Google gadget (like an Android Phone or on Android Tablet / Phablet) the moment you set up your gear. In many cases, the gadget user would say yes ( I wouldn’t if I owned an Android gadget, and since I set up my wife’s Samsung smartphone, I did not consent in sending Google the location data contained in her phone all the way to Google’s ?Orwellian? headquarters (or at least its servers wherever they are). But that’s just me.
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Video: Google’s Location History ( Mary Greeley / YouTube)
Google apparently uses these location data to give you geo based services about traffic and other stuff. And it’s been around for quite a while. So I was actually wondering while reading all these ?reports’, why it is all of a sudden cropping up now (for a moment there, I actually thought of the possibility that this is a covert tactic by Apple to scare the ever growing number of Android users into switching (back?) to the Apple iPhone and iPads. Hmmmm…no one can be that devious…or can they…..)
It seems that I have not been so clueless all these years since these articles mentioned that even a number of geeky tech journalists were not aware of this massive data harvesting. What perhaps makes this tool more awesome than scary however is that Google makes the data available to you and you alone (unless someone knows how to access your Google account). The tech columnists who wrote about Google’s location history however also felt the need to let the public know about how Google has managed to keep track of their whereabouts with such detail. It is also with much apprehension that they noted the fact (as discovered through the Edward Snowden leaks) that Google does share the information they gather with the United States National Security Agency.
So if you do own an Android phone or tablet and have probably consented to your location history being collected, you can check where you were last week at the location history site at : https://maps.google.com/locationhistory/b/0
And if you’re freaked out about how you were being tracked, you can always delete certain information in the history account, or even go invisible by removing your smart gadgets battery (just turning it off won’t do it). Of you can switch to an iPhone.