How Google uses location information – Privacy & Terms – Google (2023)

  • Why does Google use location information?
  • How does Google know my location?
  • How is location saved in my Google Account?
  • How is location used to show ads?

Why does Google use location information?

The Google Privacy Policy describes how we treat information when you use Google’s products and services, including location information. This page provides additional information about the location information we collect and how you can control it.

Providing useful, meaningful experiences is at the core of what Google does, and location information plays an important role in doing just that. From driving directions, to making sure your search results include things near you, to showing you when a restaurant is typically busy, location can make your experiences across Google more relevant and helpful. Location information also helps with some core product functionality, like providing a website in the right language or helping to keep Google’s services secure.

How does Google know my location?

Depending on the products you’re using and settings you choose, you may provide Google with different types of location information that are critical to making some services work and making others more useful for you. Location can come from real-time signals, like your IP address or device location, and also your past activity on Google sites and services, to tailor experiences for your context. Below are the primary ways we may get information about your location.

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From the IP address of your Internet connection

An IP address (also called Internet address) is assigned to your device by your Internet Service Provider, and is a requirement to use the internet. IP addresses are used to make the connection between your device and the websites and services you use. IP addresses are roughly based on geography. This means that any website you use, including google.com, may get some information about your general area.

Like many other internet services, Google can use information about the general area that you’re in to provide some basic services. Estimating the general area that you’re in means for instance that Google can give you relevant results, and keep your account safe by detecting unusual activity, such as signing in from a new city.

From your past activity

As you use our services, we may infer that you’re interested in a place even if your device isn’t telling us exactly where you are. For example, if you search for “Cafes in Paris”, we may assume that you would like to see places near Paris and show you results of cafes there. Some items from your activity, such as previous searches, may also include the general area you were in at the time. Depending on your settings, this type of information may be stored with your account and used as an input, for example to decide whether you might still be in Paris when you do more searches at a later time.

From your labeled places

You might also choose to tell us about places that are important to you, such as your home or your work. This could help you do things like pull up directions faster by automatically pulling up your home and work addresses. This information can also be used to influence the results that we provide to you. Learn more

From your devices

Many devices, like phones or computers, can work out their precise location. You can allow Google and other apps to provide you with useful features based on where your device is located. For example, if you’re running late to meet your friends, you’ll probably want to use a navigation app to know the quickest way to get to your destination. To get turn-by-turn directions, you may need to turn on your device’s location and give the app the permission to access it. Or for some searches like “coffee shop”, “bus stop” or “atm”, results will usually be more helpful when precise location is available.

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On your Android device, if you choose to turn on your device location, you can use features like navigation, giving an app access to your current location, or find your phone. You can also choose which apps have permission to use your device’s location with simple controls that let you turn the permission on or off for individual apps. On Android, you can see when an app is requesting to use your phone’s GPS-based location when the top of your screen shows LocationHow Google uses location information – Privacy & Terms – Google (1). Learn more

Google Location Services

On most Android devices, Google, as the network location provider, provides a location service called Google Location Services (GLS), known in Android 9 and above as Google Location Accuracy. This service aims to provide a more accurate device location and generally improve location accuracy. Most mobile phones are equipped with GPS, which uses signals from satellites to determine a device’s location – however, with Google Location Services, additional information from nearby Wi-Fi, mobile networks, and device sensors can be collected to determine your device’s location. It does this by periodically collecting location data from your device and using it in an anonymous way to improve location accuracy.

You can disable Google Location Services at any time in your device’s location settings. Your device’s location will continue to work even if GLS is turned off, but the device will rely only on GPS to estimate device location for apps with the necessary permission. Google Location Services is distinct from your device’s location setting. Learn more

The settings and permissions on Android control whether your device sensors (like GPS) or network-based location (like GLS) are used to determine your location and which apps have access to that location. They do not impact how websites and apps might estimate your location in other ways, such as from your IP Address.

How is location saved in my Google Account?

Depending on the Google products and services that you use and your settings, Google may be saving location information to your Google Account. Two of the most common places where this information may be saved is Location History and Web & App Activity.

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Google Location History

If you opt in to Location History and your device is reporting location, the precise location of your signed-in devices will be collected and stored, even when you’re not actively using a Google product or service. This helps create your Timeline where Location History data is stored, and may be used to power future recommendations on Google. You can review, edit, and delete what’s saved in your Timeline at any time.

Turning on Location History provides more personalized experiences across Google—restaurants suggested in Google Maps based on dining spots you’ve visited, real-time information about the best time to leave for home or work in order to beat the traffic, and albums in Google Photos automatically created from places you’ve visited.

To determine if you’ve turned on Location History, visit your Activity controls. You may be asked to sign in, and from there, you can view whether this control is on. While you may pause the collection of new Location History data, your past Location History data will continue to be stored until you delete it. Learn more

If you delete your Location History data, you may still have other location data saved elsewhere—such as in Web & App Activity.

Web & App Activity

If Web & App Activity is enabled, your searches and activity from a number of other Google services are saved to your Google Account. The activity saved to Web & App Activity may also include location information. As an example, if you type in “weather” in Search and get weather results based on where you are, this activity, including the location used to provide this result, is saved to your Web & App Activity. The location used and stored with your Web & App Activity can come from signals like the device’s IP address, your past activity, or from your device, if you’ve chosen to turn on your device’s location settings.

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Turning on your Web & App Activity setting helps us show you more useful search results, more relevant ads, and more tailored suggestions–like when you see your search automatically suggested based on past searches. You can review and delete what’s in your Web & App Activity, or pause it for your Google Account. Pausing Web & App Activity will stop saving your future searches and activity from other Google services. Even if you delete your Web & App Activity data, you may still have location data saved elsewhere—such as in Location History.

To determine if you’ve turned on Web & App Activity, visit your Activity controls. You may be asked to sign in, and from there, you can view whether this control is on. Learn more

How is location used to show ads?

Ads can be served based on your general location. This can include location derived from the device’s IP address. Depending on your ads personalization settings, you may also see ads based on your activity in your Google Account. This includes activity stored in your Web & App Activity, which can be used for more useful ads. Another example is if you have enabled Location History and regularly frequent ski resorts, you might later see an ad for ski equipment when watching a video on YouTube. Google also uses Location History in an anonymized and aggregated manner, for users who have chosen to opt-in to it, to help advertisers measure how often an online ad campaign helps drive traffic to physical stores or properties. We do not share Location History or any other identifying information with advertisers.

You have control over the data stored in your Google Account, and can turn off personalized ads at any time. When ads personalization is off, Google does not use the data stored in your Google Account to serve you more relevant ads.

FAQs

How Google uses information from sites or apps that use our services Privacy & Terms Google? ›

We may also set cookies on your browser or read cookies that are already there. Apps that use Google advertising services also share information with Google, such as the name of the app and a unique identifier for advertising.

How does Google use your information? ›

So how does Google collect data, exactly? They use various web tracking technologies — such as IP address tracking, cookies, and others used in the ad tracking industry — to collect data and learn more about you. IP address tracking is a technique Google uses to help identify your location.

What is Google privacy and terms? ›

We restrict access to personal information to Google employees, contractors, and agents who need that information in order to process it. Anyone with this access is subject to strict contractual confidentiality obligations and may be disciplined or terminated if they fail to meet these obligations.

Does Google always track your location? ›

Google only receives Location History for each device where you are signed in and you have Location Reporting turned on. You can change the Location Reporting setting for each device where you're signed in, and limit which devices provide location data to be included in Location History.

How does Google know my location is shared? ›

When someone shares their location with you, you can find them on your map.
  1. On your Android phone or tablet, open the Google Maps app​ .
  2. Tap your profile picture or initial. Location sharing.
  3. Tap the profile of the person you want to find. To update the person's location: Tap on a friend's icon More. Refresh.

Why does Google want my location? ›

When you use Google Chrome, your location is used to help you find local businesses or places, such as stores and restaurants. As a user, you have the option to allow Google Chrome to access your location, never allow it to access your location, or let it access your location only if you grant it permission.

How do I stop Google from tracking my location? ›

Stop location tracking on Android devices
  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen so that you see your Quick Settings menu, and long-press on the Location icon — or swipe down, tap the Settings icon, and choose “Location.”
  2. You're now on the Location page. Find the “Use location” feature at the top and toggle it off.
30 Nov 2021

Does Google keep your information private? ›

We do not sell your personal information to anyone. Advertising makes it possible for us to offer our products at no charge, and it helps the sites and apps that partner with us fund their content. Your personal information is not for sale. We keep your data private at every point in the process of showing you ads.

Why does Google track everything I do? ›

They help give users more relevant information instead of random information, according to Google. Turning off tracking means you'll see less relevant ads, less helpful search recommendations and get a less personalized experience overall using the search engine and its apps and services.

How Google protect data and privacy of their customers and users? ›

Encryption to keep data private and protected

As the data you create moves between your device, Google services, and our data centers, it is protected by security technology like HTTPS and Transport Layer Security. We also encrypt email at rest and in transit by default, and encrypt identity cookies by default.

How Google protects your privacy? ›

When you send an email, share a video, visit a website, or store your photos, the data you create moves between your device, Google services, and our data centers. We protect this data with multiple layers of security, including leading encryption technology like HTTPS and Transport Layer Security.

Is Google Good privacy? ›

Google does a good job of protecting your data from hackers, protecting you from phishing, making it easier to zero out your search history or go incognito,” says Douglas Schmidt, a computer science researcher at Vanderbilt University who has studied Google's user data collection and retention policies.

Can Google track your location if your phone is off? ›

If you are asking if there is a way for your phone to track where you have been while it is off so that you can later look at it in Timeline, the answer would be no. Location tracking does require the phone to be on, as location tracking just reports where the phone thinks it was located.

Can someone track your location if your location is off? ›

The answer is yes, it's possible to track mobile phones even if location services are turned off. Turning off the location service on your phone can help conceal your location. This is important if you don't want third parties knowing where you are or being able to track your movement.

Who can see my location history? ›

You can edit your Timeline anytime and delete your Location History in Timeline. Your Timeline is private, so only you can find it.
...
To turn on or pause your Location History:
  • On your Android phone or tablet, open the Google Maps app .
  • Tap your profile picture or initial. ...
  • Tap More.

Can someone else see my location history? ›

If you shared your login credentials to someone else, they will have full access to your location history since they are seeing it as if it was you. Since Google thinks it was you, the access is never recorded. What is the best way to route multiple locations on Google Maps?

Who can see my location Google Maps? ›

  • Open the Google Maps app (Android, iOS).
  • Tap your profile picture or initials at the top right. ...
  • Tap Location sharing and Share location.
  • Select how long you want to share your location.
  • Choose the people you want to share your location with (you may have to give Google Maps access to your contacts here).
15 Oct 2021

What is Google doing to protect privacy? ›

When you send an email, share a video, visit a website, or store your photos, the data you create moves between your device, Google services, and our data centers. We protect this data with multiple layers of security, including leading encryption technology like HTTPS and Transport Layer Security.

How does Google protect your information? ›

Our data centers are protected with several layers of security to prevent any unauthorized access to your data. We use secure perimeter defense systems, comprehensive camera coverage, biometric authentication, and a 24/7 guard staff.

Can Google be trusted with information? ›

The surprising answer is yes — as long as you're not a competitor, advertiser, or consumer. For years, it seemed, Google lived up to its old motto, “Don't be evil.” It also seemed to do no wrong in terms of product superiority. Google built its reputation as an ethical company that outperformed competitors.

How do I stop Google from tracking me? ›

Use the Google Maps app
  1. On your Android device, open the Google Maps app .
  2. Tap your profile picture or initial Your Timeline .
  3. In the top right, tap More. Settings and privacy.
  4. Under "Location settings," tap Delete all Location History.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions.

How do I stop Google from collecting my information? ›

When you browse the web on computers or Android devices, you can send a request to websites not to collect or track your browsing data.
...
Turn "Do Not Track" on or off
  1. On your Android device, open the Chrome app .
  2. To the right of the address bar, tap More. ...
  3. Tap Privacy and security.
  4. Tap Do Not Track.

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