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Home / Tips and Tricks / To prevent Google's Sensorvault from sharing your location with law enforcement

To prevent Google's Sensorvault from sharing your location with law enforcement

  Google Maps on an Android Phone
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Google's Sensorvault is a database that can be queried by the police to see phones near a crime scene. Google is the only company with such a database ̵

1; and therefore innocent people were arrested.

How does Sensorvault work?

After a New York Times investigation, Sensorvault works with Location History. This is included on Android and included in some Google apps for the iPhone. It is not enabled by default, but there is a good chance that you will be prompted to do so.

Once you've turned on Location History, Google saves a timeline of your movements – using your phone's GPS and / or smartphone, to get location information from your computer and make it available online as part of your Google Account. You can return and see your travels on a particular day. Google may use this information to tailor search results and recommendations to you. Google states that this data will not be shared with advertisers or other companies.

Google collects the location history data you provide in a database called "Sensorvault" and can be interrogated by law enforcement agencies with an arrest warrant:

For years later, police have provided Google with a guarantee to search for location information certain user accounts are bound.

The new arrest warrants, often referred to as geofence queries, instead specify an area near a crime. Google searches for devices in Sensorvault that were there at the right time and provides this information to the police.

Google first identifies the devices with anonymous ID numbers, and detectives examine locations and movement patterns to determine if they appear to be relevant to the crime. Once the field is restricted to a few devices, Google reveals information such as names and email addresses.

Google says this database was not created for law enforcement purposes, but law enforcement agencies have certainly confiscated it. While Google is collecting other location data, Google The New York Times said that only location data from the Location History feature is stored in Sensorvault and other location data is stored in a different database.

In theory, this other database could also be opened up with a warrant. The other site database may be much less useful than the Sensorvault database – and we have not received any reports that have been accessed.

Should you be interested?

Whether you are interested in this is a personal decision. The Investigation New York Times provides some important reasons that may interest you. Sure, you are a law-abiding citizen – but you could end up near a crime. Do you want the cops to examine you for being in the wrong place at the wrong time?

And realistically, you do not have to change much to get your location data out of the Google database. Sensorvault You can still use Google Maps and other Google services – they're just a little less personalized after you turn off Google's Location History service ,

On the other hand, this location history data has some nice personalization features in your Google Account – and sure, if you're a law-abiding citizen, you probably will not be accidentally carried away in an investigation. Whether you want to enable or disable this feature is up to you.

What about Apple or Cellular Carriers?

  Mobile Masts
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At the moment, this kind of distraction seems to be unique to Google, thanks to Google's location data and this database:

Investigators who have spoken with the New York Times , said they had not sent any other geofence warrants to companies other than Google, and Apple said the search was not possible. Google would not provide any information about Sensorvault, but Aaron Edens, an intelligence analyst at the sheriff's office in San Mateo County, California, who examined data from hundreds of cell phones, said most Android devices and some iPhones had this data available from Google ,

It's worth noting that even if Google withdraws and Apple still refuses to keep track of your movements, your mobile service provider will use the mobile device's connection data.

Law enforcement likely works with Google because they work Mobile operators do not have a convenient database to track and easily query this data. We would not be surprised if mobile operators track down this information in a few years and make it available to law enforcement agencies in a similar way.

For the moment, it seems that Google's Location History is the only service that's potentially appropriate. This will cause you to be caught up in an investigation just because you're near a certain point in time at a certain time Location have found.

Removing Location Data from Sensorvault

The vault only displays data associated with Google's Location History feature. If you do not use Location History, you are fine.

On an iPhone, your phone does not send this location history data to Google unless you have Google apps installed, such as Google Maps, and have location tracking enabled. Of course, many users have.

To check if Location History is turned on, go to the Activity History page on the Google website and sign in with the same Google Account you use on your phone. You can click the arrow next to "Devices in this account" to see which devices you're reporting to Google through Location History.

If you're away from a PC, you can also disable location history from your Android phone. On Android, go to the Banned Settings> Settings> Google> Google Account> Data and Personalization> Activity Controls> Location History> Manage Settings screen.

To turn off location history, turn off Location History. Slider here. This will "pause" Location History capture on all your devices. Already collected data will continue to be stored in your Google Account and you can resume capture at any time.

To clear your data, you must switch to the timeline page. Click "Manage Activity" on the Activity History page to open it, and this UI will also display any Historical Location History data you've shared with Google Google introduced Location History in 2009 so that Google stores your location history forever – until you delete it.

To clear the location history data, click the gear in the lower-right corner of the page and choose Clear All Location History.

[19659006] Remember to repeat this step if you have multiple Google Accounts and want to turn off Location History for all.

This is all based on an excellent New York Times piece, and we would like to invite you to read it for more context.We only explain the technical details, but d The New York Times guides you through all the other details.

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