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Tracking and advertising: why it is worth removing Google Maps from your phone

Google knows a lot about you - perhaps more than you are willing to trust. And it is not always obvious to the user what information a particular application has access to. Edition Lifehacker has collected six reasons why the popular Google Maps service misuses its capabilities and can violate the privacy of your data.

Photo: Shutterstock

1. Maps save what you are looking for

The user agreement describes how the company collects data, including the user's location, for a faster and "personalized" experience. In simple terms, this means that every place you searched for in the app - be it a home improvement store, a kebab shop, or a 18-hour toilet - is saved and integrated into the Google search algorithm for XNUMX months. At the same time, the data about what you were looking for in the application can be used to personalize the search in the browser - and vice versa.

2. The application limits the possibilities if you do not give it access to your data

If you open Google Maps, you will almost certainly see an avatar of your Google account in the upper right corner: the application is synchronized with your data. You can disable this by selecting the item "Use cards without logging into your account." At the same time, you will not be able to save interesting places to your favorites, and each time you touch the search bar, the application will offer to log in to use all the functions.

3. Maps track users

Another problematic feature is called Timeline. It saves all the places you've ever been with Google Maps turned on, and builds routes of movement - they can be viewed by day. The app even suggests whether you were traveling on a specific bus, car, or on foot. Simply put, Google is able to know everything about user movements and store this data. Possible situations when this can turn against the user (in addition to the unpleasant feeling that you are being watched) - a hacker attack or a request from the authorities.

On the subject: How to upload a copy of everything Google knows about you

4. Google wants to know your habits

Google Maps is often asked to share your opinion on the places visited: as soon as you pick up your order from a cafe, a notification will prompt you to rate this place to help other users. It sounds like a very simple and innocent idea: to share your experience to help others decide whether or not to go to this place. In fact, the idea is that the data about the places visited is also tied to your Google account and stored for up to 18 months. This allows you to track, for example, that you regularly visit the same address at the same time.

5. The application requires a constant network connection

Remember GPS Navigators? While they weren't always very convenient, they showed that you don't need internet to know how to get to your destination. Many map services offer offline navigation, but not Google. You can download maps of the region you need to your smartphone, but you can only use them for offline route planning for driving: pedestrians and cyclists are out of luck.

6. All for advertising

"Providing useful and meaningful experiences is at the core of Google's work," the corporation's website says. It also says that for this reason, it is important for services to know your location: this data is used for security, automatic language selection - and, of course, for selling ads. Google also offers advertisers the opportunity to measure how well their campaigns achieved their goal and how often people visited their physical stores - "anonymously and aggregated" (that is, your data will not be passed directly to the advertiser - your purchase will be an impersonal line in the report). At the same time, the company began to report openly about advertising functions only after a wave of negativity from users concerned about the privacy of their data.

So: By using this free application, you trust Google with a lot of specific personal data. At the same time, it is possible to prohibit the collection of information only partially, and the location of these settings is not at all obvious.

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