How On Earth Does Google Chrome Know My Location?

How On Earth Does Google Chrome Know My Location?

Google Chrome My Location

If you’re one of the 2.65 billion global users who use Chrome as their primary browser, then you’ve no doubt noticed that Chrome has an uncanny habit of tracking your GPS location, wherever you happen to be in the world. For the most part, Google uses your location to enhance your browsing experience; but still, not everybody wants to be tracked.

Google uses a few different methods to track its Chrome users and provide them with location-specific results. Here, we’re all about enhancing your online security and anonymity, though. So today, we’re going to show you exactly how Google Chrome knows your location and what you can do to stop them from tracking your location moving forward.

This guide works whether you want to temporarily disable Google’s location tracking or permanently stop them from tracking you. So, let’s dig in, shall we?

Why Does Google Chrome Track My Location?

Before we get into how Chrome tracks your location, you may be wondering, “Why does Chrome track my location, in the first place?”

Well, the answer is pretty simple- they just want to provide you with a better browsing experience. You see, when Chrome tracks your location, they’re able to recommend location-specific results to you. For example, if you type in “what’s the weather,” you’ll be presented with accurate weather results for your current location, without having to type in “what’s the weather in [your location].”

Another example of how Chrome uses your location to enhance your experience is for business purposes. Let’s say that one afternoon you’re feeling a bit hungry and you’re craving a nice hot bowl of ramen… All you have to type in is “Ramen near me,” and you’ll be presented with every local noodle house in your general vicinity.

Pretty handy, right?

Overall, Chrome’s location tracking works seamlessly with your device to ensure that you’re able to see the most accurate results and are exposed to local businesses, services, weather, and advertisements that are applicable to your area.

Does Google Sell My Data?

Unlike social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, Google is firm on its commitment to not selling your information. This means that your location data is never being sold to third-party data brokers, law enforcement agencies, or governments. The only thing your data is used for is to improve their advertising system.

However, even other businesses that are advertising through Google/YouTube can’t purchase specific information on users. They can only use bulk data to advertise to Google users (e.g., targeting ads towards people who live in New York City, or towards people who have previously searched for certain queries). No advertisers are able to see who is located where.

How Does Google Chrome Track My Location?

Google uses three main methods of tracking your location. Here’s what they are…

  1. GPS On Your Device: The easiest way of tracking you is by using your device’s GPS location. Most phones, tablets, and even computers have GPS functionality built into them, which other platforms, apps, and sites can use to track your location.
  2. Your IP Address: Your IP address is the unique numerical address that’s associated with your device and internet connection. Google can see your IP address and use it to track you within the general vicinity where your device is located. The only way to stop IP tracking is to use a VPN that masks your IP address, making it appear as if you’re located somewhere else entirely.
  3. Wi-Fi Networks Around You: If the previous methods of tracking you fail, then Google can look at the Wi-Fi networks that are close to your IP address. Although this is less specific, Google can still use information gleaned from surrounding Wi-Fi networks to triangulate your general location.
  4. Cell Phone Towers Near You: If you’re on a mobile device or your computer is connected to a mobile hotspot, then Google can use information obtained from local cell phone towers to triangulate your location.

Can Other Web Apps Track My Location?

If you think Google Chrome is the only one tracking your location, then you’re very wrong… In fact, Google is one of the only platforms that’s actually honest and transparent about the fact that they track your location. Most other websites and apps track your location without disclosing the fact.

Again, the best way to prevent third-party apps and sites from tracking your location is to use a high-quality VPN like IPVanish.

How Do I Stop Chrome From Tracking My Location?

Thankfully, Google is committed to giving its users 100% control over their tracking settings. This means it’s as easy as 1-2-3 to prevent Chrome from actively tracking your location.

1. Go To ‘My Activity’ In Your Google Account: First, go to www.myactivity.google.com. Then, scroll down to where it says ‘Location History.’

Here’s how it should look:

Google My Activity

2. Turn Off Location History: Next, click the middle tab that says ‘Location History.’ This will bring up all of the settings associated with your Google location history. Now, just hit the little slider button and turn it off. Just like that, Google Chrome will stop tracking your location! Anytime you want, you can repeat the same process to turn it back on and start receiving location-specific recommendations and information.

Google Location History

How To Make Your Location 100% Anonymous While Browsing

Although this prevents Chrome from tracking you, other websites may still track you without your knowledge. Here’s how to remain completely anonymous while browsing.

1. Turn Off Tracking In Your Chrome Settings: First, use the steps above to keep Chrome from tracking you.

2. Turn Off Your Device’s GPS: Then, turn off your device’s GPS location service (if applicable).

3. Use A VPN To Mask Your IP Address: Lastly, you’ll want to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect to the internet. This will tunnel or re-route your internet traffic through another server that’s located in a different region, making it appear as if you’re device is located wherever the VPN server is.

For example, you could be browsing from New York and be connected to a VPN server in the UK. Any website or app you visit/use would think that you were located in the UK and display different content to you! This is also a great way to access geo-blocked content such as country-specific movies on Netflix.

In Conclusion

See, that wasn’t so hard, was it? For the most part, you shouldn’t worry about Chrome tracking your location, as they’re one of the few platforms that won’t take advantage of your data and sell it to random third parties.

However, you should worry about what other apps and websites are doing with your location. This is why we always recommend browsing with a VPN and limiting the apps that have access to your device’s GPS location.

Sources:

  1. https://safety.google/privacy/ads-and-data/
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