I Took A Road Trip, and I Liked It. And also Google tracked it.

I’ve turned off the location tracking/storing features in each of my devices multiple times. Today I was digging around in the data that Google has on me stores about me, and I see that they are storing my location data from my phone again. I don’t know if it’s because I said I wanted “Precise” tracking to be enabled in some app, or maybe Google Fit did it when it prompted me to use “Precise” location information, but the map in the header is where my son and I went on my trip. With Google, I guess.

I mean if I want to remember where I went when I was in Milwaukee, and my brain isn’t able to remember it for me, then I guess this is useful.


Honestly, I live my life pretty publicly and so I mean, here’s an annotated map:


And I mean hell, here’s pictures of some of that stuff:

My kid in front of my grade school in Wisconsin which was also coincidentally the name of his grade school in California!
The outside of Kopp's Frozen Custard!
The outside of Kopp’s Frozen Custard!
The Domes
The “Domes”
One of the bars I had to meet my mom at around dinner time when she didn't come home after school!
One of the bars I sometimes had to meet my mom at around dinner time when she didn’t come home after school!

Whatever, I don’t really care. I live my life pretty openly. I’m not hiding much, if anything. All my posts on Facebook are public, on purpose. I’m boring and if my nothing of a life can bring joy to anyone, great. If not, I just hope they leave me alone. I write this blog, I don’t even know why, it’s just some desperate yelling into a void under the guise of thinking I have something to say, or something pathetic like that.

BUT WHAT THE FUCK GOOGLE? I’ve turned off this feature multiple times, I’m pretty OCD about things, and yet this keeps getting turned on. Maybe when I opt into “Precise” positioning from some app it’s globally  turning on storage of my location “for a better experience.” I actually don’t know at the moment. Because I don’t know, and because I think I’m a reasonably intelligent person, I’m surprised that this data was collected. Repeatedly, every time I see it and turn everything off again. SO IT FEELS BAD, LIKE SPYING AND TRICKERY.

Or maybe I’ve turned a corner and I just sound like an old man yelling at the kids. Whatever, this old man post and hell even everyone else in the world shouting about privacy isn’t going to change much.

Google, at least, has a nice dashboard where you can see ALL the data they collect about you.


Today when I went in there, I noticed that they have also stored actual audio recordings of every text message I’ve sent using voice-to-text and also every voice search I’ve done. They say they use this data to make searching better for me as they learn my voice. (It still isn’t great.) And you can turn this feature off:



But they still record your voice and store it. So, you know, and the text makes it sound like it can’t be tied to you. Google “voice fingerprinting” for some light reading about how the idea that your voice can’t be attached back to you is hilarious, and that seems to be what they’re implying with the whole “anonymous identifiers” stuff.

Whatever. Like a full-on 90s-style whatever. It is what it is. What’re ya gonna do? Etc. I’m just yelling into a void.

Here’s how to turn off Google’s location data collection, if you’re reading this (why?) and want to do that. Here are more Google history collection settings.




[UPDATE] I wanted to add a shoutout to my son Lars. At one point on the trip, the rear wheel bearings got crazy loud, and we had to have them replaced. While this was happening, and we were bored, my son recommended we get balloons. I asked why, and he said somewhat sardonically, “because balloons are fun, dad!” He turned this part of Kansas City:


Into this:

IMG_20150409_110538 IMG_20150409_111109 IMG_20150409_112121 IMG_20150409_114317

Balloons and kids for the win!



My issue? I have more than one account on my phone, and I disabled location reporting just for the one account.

Setting is not global for the phone, it's per account
Setting is not global for the phone, it’s per account



Kurt Koller Written by:


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