How to Stop Google from Tracking You?
- February 14, 2023
- 11 minutes Read
- VPN Service
Honestly, you cannot completely prevent Google from tracking you, but there are options you can disable to minimize the tracking. The only problem with disabling those is that you can no longer personalize your Google experience. That means you won’t see tailored ads and personalized suggestions.
A famous quote says, “Google knows better than you know yourself.” Through its vast network of interconnected apps and services, Google gathers, processes, trades, and leverages massive amounts of personal information. For instance, Google collects our search history, mobile device location, ad viewing, video viewing, and more.
So, the question is how to stop Google from tracking you. The answer is simple: stop using Google services completely. Although you can disable location history, search history, and other options, Google may still track you. Another solution is using alternatives like DuckDuckGo, Startpage, Swisscows, etc.
The Truth Behind Google’s Aggressive Tracking?
Most people don’t realize that Google tracks you even if you don’t use any of their products directly. Google trackers have been found on 86% of the top millions of websites, whereas 95% of the top 200 marketing websites use Google Analytics.
This means they also try to track almost everywhere you go on the internet, tracking your browsing history. With every search you do and every YouTube video you watch, Google is always watching you. Thus, Google creates a digital person for everyone.
For example, Google Maps records everywhere you go, the route you take there, and the length of your stay, whether you have an iPhone or an Android. This data is processed and analyzed to suggest places and show targeted location-based ads.
Moreover, Google can (and does) track your activity across many non-Google websites and apps. This may come as a surprise, even if you already know that when you use Google products like Google Search, Chrome, and YouTube, they collect large amounts of personal information about you. Let’s get started.
What are the Ways Google Tracks Us?
While there’s not much you can do to remove Google from your life, there are ways to limit Google’s reach and regain control of your data. Here are some of the most common ways Google can track you and how you can reduce or stop it.
✅IP Address Tracking
IP address tracking is a technique used by Google to help determine your location. An IP address is a unique string of numbers and letters assigned to individual devices connected to the internet, and it can be used to determine your location.
Access your account settings in the browser by finding Google Account in the dropdown in the upper right-hand corner, heading to Personal Info & Privacy, choosing Go to My Activity, and clicking Activity Controls in the left-hand nav. Once there, you’ll see the Web & App Activity setting, which you can toggle off.
A fast and safe premium VPN encrypts your data and hides your IP address by routing your activity through the VPN server, so even if Google tries to monitor your traffic, all they will see is the IP address of the VPN server instead.
✅Web Tracking Through Analytics
Google uses personal data from Google Analytics, the Global Site Tag, and many other tracking tools and products to target you with ads and content they think you will want to see. The best place to start tracking Google’s tracking habits is the Activity Controls page in your Google Account on the web.
If you’re currently signed in to Google in your browser, this link will take you straight there. The data that Google holds about you is divided into six parts. You can turn off tracking on any device using the toggles you see on the screen. Web & App Activity and Location History are the most important in the first two sections.
First, web and app activity is, as you might guess from the name, everything you do on the web when you sign in to Chrome, everything you search for when you sign in to Google, and everything you do in your apps.
✅Targeted Ads and Mobile Devices
With advancements in online marketing, website cookies can track and collect your browsing data to discern personal information for personalized ads. This information and customer data can be later shared or sold between multiple advertising networks.
Cookies are small code pieces stored in your browser when you first visit a website. Cookies help websites and other companies identify and remember what you did on previous visits. Used to store and deliver personalized content, track web analytics, and serve ads, cookies can capture and store information about you.
Location services is another Google feature that uses your device’s built-in GPS, nearby cell tower information, and wireless access point information to provide additional information—a specific location like your IP address.
Macs, PCs, iPhones, and Android devices all have some version of location services, which lets you use apps and services like weather, location-based reminders, and maps. In addition, third-party apps and websites (including those operated by Google) may request access to location services, allowing them to see your exact location.
So, in short, most of the services we use collect our data or track our behavior somehow. For example, social networks and search sites like Google or Facebook contain much information about our online usage and habits.
To completely opt out of ad personalization, consider using the toggle switch at the top of the page. Remember that this won’t reduce the number of ads you see or affect the amount of data Google collects on you. However, it can stop Google from linking ads and personal information. As a result, you’ll see the same number of ads around the web, and they’ll just be less tailored to what Google thinks you’re interested in.
✅Voice & Audio Activity
All your queries and interactions with Google Assistant are also permanently archived. Google says this ensures the virtual assistant listens when called and improves speech recognition algorithms. However, you can turn it off if you don’t feel comfortable.
This is where all your Google Assistant commands are stored, whether sent to your phone or smart speaker. For example, if you click on Manage Activity, you’ll get a list of everything you’ve said and even the option to play the recording.
Voice and Audio Activity is in the Activity Controls tab. Click the three dots next to a record to delete, the trash can icon to delete all day, or the Delete activity links to the left to delete everything in that category. Disabling the voice activity setting might affect some Google Assistant functions, such as multiple profiles on Google Home.
✅Tracking Through Google Maps
Most of the coordinates you enter into Google Maps will eventually be stored in Google’s database, allowing the company to track your other activities. Google also collects GPS and other sensor data from your device to provide more accurate location readings and directions, show ads, and optimize search results based on your location.
In addition, there are other ways for Google to track your information using the Maps tool. One is Google Timeline, the part of Maps that shows your past search activities. Since it syncs with the images posted to your Google Photos account, it gives Google access to more of your data.
In addition, mobile users can share their location details with others in real-time. To turn off tracking in Google Maps, go to the “Location History” section of your Google Account and choose whether your account or devices can report Location History to Google. Then, turn the location history on or off at the top.
How to Stop Google from Tracking Me?
There are some effective ways to stop Google from tracking your online activities:
- Use a secure VPN service (to hide your online activity)
- Turn off YouTube watch history (to prevent targeted ads)
- Turn off Google search history (to prevent cookie and IP tracking)
- Turn off Google Maps location history (to prevent location tracking)
- Avoid using Google’s AI model ‘’Bard’’ (to prevent being spied on)
Additionally, you can use Google’s alternative secure ecosystem, Skiff. It offers end-to-end encrypted email, drive, and calendar and doesn’t track you.
Here are some privacy-friendly alternatives to Google services:
- Search engines: DuckDuckGo, Startpage, Qwant, Swisscows, Ecosia, etc.
- Cloud storage: Mega, pCloud, Skiff drive, Filen, Proton Drive, etc.
- Mail Services: Protonmail, Skiff Mail, Criptext, Tutanota, Posteo, etc.
- Map Services: DuckDuckGo Map, Apple Map, OpenStreetMap, etc.
- Calendars: Proton Calendar, Skiff Calendar, Tutanota Calendar, etc.
How Can VPN Help to Prevent Online Tracking?
Having a private life online is becoming more and more difficult. People turn to VPNs to protect themselves against cyber threats, tracking, data collection, and intrusive advertising. But can you be tracked with your VPN on?
A VPN can help prevent tracking online by encrypting your internet traffic and hiding your IP address from external access. This makes it harder for third parties, such as internet service providers, websites, and governments, to track your online activities.
However, it is important to note that not all VPNs are created equal; usually, free VPNs may track your online activities or sell your information to third parties. As a result, we suggest you avoid using free VPNs since they often cause more harm than good.
Therefore, choosing a reputable VPN provider that follows a strict zero-logs policy and provides strong encryption (AES-256) to ensure your online privacy and security is essential. Furthermore, using a trusted VPN service can secure your digital life.
How to Choose a VPN Service Provider?
You trust its provider with your personal data, browsing activity, and even your security whenever you enable a VPN. For this reason, VPN providers are subject to a higher standard than most products. Therefore, you must consider it carefully when making a decision. Here are some features you must consider while choosing a VPN provider.
✅Security and Encryption
Look for features like AES-256 encryption, active kill switch, split tunneling, and products that reputable third parties independently audit. Your VPN should also support industry-leading VPN protocols like Wireguard, OpenVPN, etc.
✅Active Kill Switch
A kill switch is the most crucial feature of a VPN. As a failsafe, it prevents your IP address from leaking in case of network disruptions or sudden changes. It completely disconnects you from the internet until it re-establishes a connection with the VPN.
✅DNS Leak Protection
Ensure the VPN service sends all your DNS queries through a secure VPN tunnel to keep them always private. It hides that you’re using a VPN so that no one can intercept your connection. It is especially useful in countries with strong internet censorship.
✅Strict No-log Policy
The best VPNs have a “zero log” policy that, if appropriately implemented, won’t store any user data like IP address, location history, cookies, etc. Nowadays, many VPNs offer this security feature and don’t collect user data for ultimate protection.
Does Google track you without permission?
Yes, Google tracks users without their permission and consent. Even when Location History is paused, select Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without permission. Google has been accused of breaking consumer protection laws by misleading users about when it secretly recorded their movements.
How long does Google keep your history?
Google keeps your usage history up to 18 Months. However, users can choose between 3, 18, or 36 months for the deletion period and never delete their data. Additionally, users can delete some or all of their saved activity at any time.
Does Chrome track you?
Yes, Google Chrome tracks you in every way possible, which is why it has a bad reputation for respecting privacy. Despite the privacy concerns, tracking Google Chrome is one of the most used browsers due to its speed and ease of use.
To sum up, you can use a VPN, disable location history, search history of Google services, and opt out of personalized ads to prevent Google from tracking you online. Despite this, Google can track you almost everywhere because of its integration with many internet services. The best thing you can do is follow the steps outlined in this article, use the Google alternatives, and regularly monitor your privacy settings.