Your History

So Google knows where I’ve been all Christmas? And has a map to prove it? Hmmmm…

The map below is not mine, of course. But, it’s furious scribbles all concentrated around the same area, somewhat resemble my monthly meanderings.


Ron Doyle’s Map.Source: Double Clicks.Info

So, if you have a smart phone, you really should know this: it acts as a sensor tracking your every move. And it thoughtfully maintains a record of that in Googleland.

Taken a holiday trip to Tahiti? Yep, a straight red line will map you on the 23rd of December and show your return on the 2nd of January. Been to see Santa on your last trip to the Big Smoke? Yep, that’s dated and marked on your map too.

The record is maintained for thirty days at a time. So, if I wanted a reminder of where I’d been say, on December 25th. Well, a quick check on google history would prove that I was at home.

No surprises there then.

It’s mildly entertaining. But my disquiet is drowning out my sense of fun.

Why on earth do I need to know where I was a month ago?

I don’t.

And why does Google want to know?

Probably everything got to do with selling me stuff. If I’ve been to Tahiti for Christmas, they’ll tempt me cruises to Christmas Island next year.

And can anyone else find out?

I imagine it would be a port of call for that detective who needs to track down my final movements when I fly the coop. All he’ll need is my smartphone log in account. Actually, google might even give him the information if he waves his ID at them and shows them a warrant, or something.

Anyone with my smartphone log in details can find out, of course. Can you imagine how many suspicious spouses are out there who have precisely that detail and are willing to use it? Or parents who want to track the whereabouts of their wayward kid?

But if they even feel the need to do that, then there’s an inherent trust issue in the first place. So there’s a problem before they even find out there’s a problem.

And my map shows there’s a problem too. For the past month, it’s like that two year old with the red crayon just hammered into one spot on the page. There’s an occasional squiggle due south, and another due east. But mostly, it’s just one scribble confined within a ten mile radius.

In other words, I’ve had aΒ greatΒ Christmas. A damned slothful, all-you-can-eat-and-read binge with, regular forays, I should add, to my regular running spot.Β 

If I could zoom in close enough, I’d see a particularly dense spot in the living room, on the sofa, sprawled in front of the open fire. Zoom closer and you’ll see my books and newspapers. Zoom even closer and my lips are moving in a broad smile. Bliss.

Janathon? It didn’t even cross my mind. I was far too busy rearranging myself on the sofa.

So here I am, all nicely rested up and ready for a great 2015. Google location history almost says so.

And what am I going to do with my time ahead, you ask?

Keep on running and seeking out some interesting new locations.

I might just leave my smartphone at home though!

Have you known that your location history was available for viewing before reading this post?

29 thoughts on “Your History

  1. Very interesting, and a little bit scary! I still have a dumb phone, but they know what I do online and send ads they assume will appeal. It’s all kind of creepy. Glad you had a great holiday, and I hope that 2015 is going well for you!

  2. I must have switched off my tracking somehow, as my locations map was empty.

    However, there are some benefits to Google being able to track where phones are going, and how quickly. I love the ability the navigation app has to give up-to-the-minute travel times, which are calculated based on the data transmitted by all those phones traveling along in all those cars. It’s what told me that I would still get to the Denver airport in time to catch a flight, despite the awful traffic delays due to a first-of-season blizzard coupled with the morning rush hour. The color coding on the map showed me that the traffic delays on the interstate highway were short, and I didn’t have to try to take the back way to the airport.

    And, so . . . when’s your next blog post coming? πŸ˜‰

    I’m guilty of neglect of my blogs, too.

  3. That is scary – but there is the option to turn off your location settings. I hate my mobile phone and very rarely use it for anything other than a quick call or text. If i’ve ever needed it for anything internet related it has usually let me down!
    Your Christmas sounds very similar to my own, I’m looking forward to the routine back this week. Happy runnings!

  4. It bothers me too although not if it can be used to catch real criminals (and I suspect that it isn’t!) I have gps turned off on my phone so I wonder if that stops it? Glad to see you had a good time over the holidays. x

    • Scary, but also a little interesting. Actually, I’d love to indulge my nosey side and have a look at others’ location histories. Bet they’re far more entertaining than mine!

  5. Pingback: Phone tracking | Slow and steady

  6. Interesting. I tried to find my map – and did find one by logging in to google accounts (took me a while to figure that bit out, as my google account is apparently via my btinternet email address which seems weird), but it had nothing on the map, so somehow I must have it turned off! But don’t ask me how I did it, as I don’t remember, sorry. It was rather surprising, as I’ve been using google maps on my phone a lot over the holidays.

    But there may well be more than one way of tracking us, I suspect. Ah. On my phone, in settings, there’s ‘Location Services’ – which I have switched on… And also found out that I’ve got ‘share my location’ switched on too. But Google maps is set to only have access while using it, not all the time. I know some of the other apps have continuous access though, as it’s a pain to switch them on and off all the time as they don’t have an ‘only while using’ setting. I’ve turned it off where I can though – I don’t see why my bank should know where I am, for example!

    Hmm. It seems that Apple has all my tracking data, rather than (or maybe as well as) Google. Amongst other things “your iPhone will send your location, including its travel speed and direction, to Apple in order to provide you with geographically relevant iAds”. Yuk. It is all pretty spooky.

    Good luck with the return to running, anyway. I made a start yesterday with a very slow mile. πŸ™‚

    • That’s a good point about the apps, Hedwigia. Apparently, if we’ve opted out of location tracking, some apps automatically switch it on anyway. I found my location history via my google account, if that’s any help to you. The funny thing is, it seems, perhaps when wifi is off, to track me via the nearest available transmitter. Well, at least I think that’s what it does. Because sometimes my route on the location history map diverts by a few miles, all of a sudden. Or maybe it’s just that I have special powers… πŸ™‚

    • And yes, I do understand that we can turn off location tracking, but I never realised that the location history record would be stored anywhere. Mind you, like you, I have nothing to hide-and nothing of interest to anyone either!

  7. It’s a bit scary really all this traceable stuff. I’m pleased to hear you had a lovely Christmas and that your sofa got a work out, at least Google didn’t have to work too hard to know where you were πŸ™‚

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