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, 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.


How does Google protect your privacy? ›

Your content is stored securely

Data is encrypted in-transit and at-rest. If you choose to access these files offline, we store this info on your device. Your Google Account comes with built-in security designed to detect and block threats like spam, phishing and malware.

Why does Google want to know your 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? ›

Go to the "Location History" section of your Google Account. Choose whether your account or your devices can report Location History to Google. Your account and all devices: At the top, turn Location History on or off. Only a certain device: Under "This device" or "Devices on this account," turn the device on or off.

Does Google track your location? ›

Google Maps tracks everywhere you go on your iPhone or Android phone, and then keeps a log of this information in a “Timeline” that shows you everywhere you've been.

Does Google Keep your info private? ›

Your information is protected by world-class security. You can always control your privacy settings in your Google Account. For general information about privacy on Keep, read this article. For more about privacy tools, visit the Google Safety Center.

What security does Google use? ›

We use multiple physical security layers to protect our data center floors. We use biometric identification, metal detection, cameras, vehicle barriers, and laser-based intrusion detection systems. For more information, see Data center security. We also host some servers in third-party data centers.

How does Google ensure online safety and privacy of information of all users? ›

Every Google Account is built with on/off data controls, so our users can choose the privacy settings that are right for them. And as technology evolves, our privacy controls evolve as well, ensuring that privacy is always an individual choice that belongs to the user.

Why does Google track everything I do? ›

And Google uses your personal profile to sell ads, not only on their search engine, but also on over three million other websites and apps. Every time you visit one of these sites or apps, Google is following you around with hyper-targeted ads.

Does Google need location permission all the time? ›

Select an option: All the time: The app can use your location at any time. Only while using the app: The app can use your location only when you're using that app. Ask every time: Every time you open the app, it'll ask to use your location.

Is Google tracking my every move? ›

Where you go, Google goes. Google Maps in particular keeps track of every step you (and your smartphone) take and archives that activity in your Google Timeline. It might seem like a walk down memory lane, but it can also leave the door to your privacy wide open(Opens in a new window).

Can you still be tracked if your location services are 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.

How do I know if someone is tracking my location? ›

A few pointers can help you determine if someone's monitoring your device.
How to Know If Someone Is Tracking Your Phone
  • Unknown Apps. ...
  • Excessive Background Data Usage. ...
  • Browser History Mismatch. ...
  • Battery Drain. ...
  • Abnormal Reboot.
Apr 22, 2022

How long does Google keep location data? ›

Data can remain on these systems for up to 6 months. As with any deletion process, things like routine maintenance, unexpected outages, bugs, or failures in our protocols may cause delays in the processes and timeframes defined in this article. We maintain systems designed to detect and remediate such issues.

Can I trust Google with my information? ›

The surprising answer is yes — as long as you're not a competitor, advertiser, or consumer.

Can I trust Google with my privacy? ›

Your privacy is protected across Google with built-in security designed to automatically stop threats before they reach you.

Where is Google privacy and security? ›

On your computer, open Chrome. Settings. Click Privacy and security and choose your settings.

What is Google's strongest security? ›

Google's strongest security helps keep your private information safe. The Advanced Protection Program safeguards users with high visibility and sensitive information from targeted online attacks. New protections are automatically added to defend against today's wide range of threats.

Why is Google so secure? ›

Google uses various encryption technologies such as HTTPS and Transport Layer Security to protect emails sent via Gmail and photographs that users save to the cloud. Google's search engine also uses the HTTPS protocol as standard.

How does Google get information about everything? ›

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.

In what ways does Google tracking your data violate your privacy? ›

Google tracks and records your every move, including the location data of your photos. That means someone could pinpoint precisely where you were standing when you took a picture.

Should I turn off Google tracking? ›

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 do I block my phone from being tracked? ›

Turn off location services (iOS and Android)
  1. Go to Settings > Privacy and tap Location Services.
  2. You can toggle off Location Services for all apps or scroll down and turn off location services only for specific apps.
  3. Go to Settings > Location, and toggle the location button to Off.
Nov 4, 2022

Can anyone see my Google activity? ›

Yes, they can.

It is best to use security tools: VPNs, HTTPS proxies, and the Tor browser to keep your searches private from them.

What apps should not be on my phone? ›

Here's the list of these dangerous apps.
  • 117. Document Manager.
  • 217. Coin track Loan - Online loan.
  • 317. Cool Caller Screen.
  • 417. PSD Auth Protector.
  • 517. RGB Emoji Keyboard.
  • 617. Camera Translator Pro.
  • 717. Fast PDF Scanner.
  • 817. Air Balloon Wallpaper.
Jul 5, 2022

Why are companies like Google collecting your personal data? ›

Many businesses collect data for multifold purposes. Here's how to know what they're doing with your personal data and whether it is secure. Businesses may collect consumer data and use it to power better customer experiences and marketing strategies. They may also sell this data for revenue.

How does Google find its information? ›

Crawling: Google searches the web with automated programs called crawlers, looking for pages that are new or updated. Google stores those page addresses (or page URLs) in a big list to look at later. We find pages by many different methods, but the main method is following links from pages that we already know about.

Why does Google sell my personal information? ›

We never sell your personal information

Your personal information is not for sale. While advertising makes it possible for us to offer products free of charge and helps the websites and apps that partner with us fund their content, we do not sell your personal information to anyone.

Does Google keep your info private? ›

Your information is protected by world-class security. You can always control your privacy settings in your Google Account. For general information about privacy on Keep, read this article. For more about privacy tools, visit the Google Safety Center.

Does Google sell my location data? ›

We don't sell your personal information to anyone

It's how we can auto-complete your searches, get you home faster with Maps, or show you more useful ads based on your interests.

Can I stop Google from collecting my data? ›

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. It's turned off by default. However, what happens to your data depends on how a website responds to the request.

Does Google give my data to government? ›

Does Google give governments direct access to user information? No, we require that requests for user information be sent to Google directly and not through any sort of "back door" direct access by the government.

How do search engines get your information? ›

Search engines work by crawling billions of pages using web crawlers. Also known as spiders or bots, crawlers navigate the web and follow links to find new pages. These pages are then added to an index that search engines pull results from. Understanding how search engines function is crucial if you're doing SEO.

Who put information on Google? ›

Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both PhD students at Stanford University in California.

Who can see my Google info? ›

On your Android phone or tablet, open your Settings. Personal info. Under "Choose what others see," tap Go to About me. Below a type of info, you can choose who currently sees this info.

How do I stop Google from selling my information? ›

Take a look at Google's record of your online activity
  1. Sign in to your Google Account and choose Data & Privacy from the navigation bar.
  2. To see a list of all your activity that Google has logged, scroll to History Settings and select Web & App Activity. ...
  3. To turn it completely off, move the toggle to the off position.
Oct 23, 2019


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