According to Statistica, three out of every four smartphones in the world run on Android. The search giant’s technology is deeply integrated into their ecosystem and it is almost impossible to avoid them on the internet.
Google has become good at extracting marketable information from the users of its ecosystem. Its ability to connect different things you do on your phone, the places you visit, your search history, etc has created a huge privacy concern for common citizens.
There are several ways in which Google collects information from you.
1.) The information you give while signing up for one of its services like your name, phone number, photo email address, etc.
2.) Information Google extracts based on the products you use on their platform. For example, time spent on a specific website, the number of similar websites visited, the number of times you click on a search result etc, This is kind of information is obtained by Google Analytics and your web history. If you use Google Chrome as your browser that is another tool that can be used to track your activities.
3.) Device information. This is typically sent from your Android phones. If you have an iPhone, this information is collected whenever you install any of Google products. Information like your phone’s model, network information, the IMEI, your phone number and even your OS.
Google tags all these pieces of information with either your device id and /or your unique account id. And this information is used to partly to improve your experience, enable easy sign-on, etc and most importantly to send you targeted ads.
Have you ever wondered why some ads seem to follow you everywhere you go?
Because it is targeting your demographic based on the data Google already has on you, like your interests and search history.
Is it possible to stop Google from collecting your personal data and tracking your phone?
Owing to the pressure from privacy groups, the EU and the several other regional regulations, Google has given a few ways to turn off their ability to track your phone.
Although it was done to comply with the European General Data Protection Regulations, anyone can use this facility to turn off information that Google can collect from you.
What options can you turn off and erase?
As of April 2018, you can erase your history and stop logging of your search results and other web activities, location history, YouTube search data, device location, Google Assistant Voice Commands, and a few more items.
Go to Google’s activity tracking page located at https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols?pli=1
Turn off the ones you don’t want Google to record. Tracking your phone could be linked with Location History and Device Information. This will stop the Android phone from being tracked by Google. But if you have other location-based services, they may spill this data over to Google.
Beware, when you turn off these services, some apps and services may not work as it did in the past due to missing pieces of information. That is the price you pay for switching off the tracking.