Author Topic: [Resolved] Apparently Google search knows my location?!  (Read 4491 times)

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Offline Halcyon

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[Resolved] Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« on: November 15, 2016, 06:57:46 am »
Something I noticed the other day, when I use the Google search engine on my desktop, right down the bottom it has estimated my location "based on my IP address" apparently. The worrying thing is, it's pretty darn accurate.

Now, I don't use any other Google services except for Gmail (nor any social media for that matter), I don't use any location services apart from Google Maps (and even then I've set it to never store my location history). I've gone through absolutely every setting I can find to ensure anything remotely linked to location is turned off, yet it's still managing to pull this data from somewhere. It even occurs if I use a browser that I have never signed into Gmail on and cookies are cleared.

I also checked using several of those "show your location based on IP address" websites and they all bring back fairly predicable results (which was expected), in that they place me somewhere in the general vicinity of Sydney, some can't even pick the right state. But for Google to know my location within 10KM simply based on IP address? I don't buy it.

Has anyone else come across this and any idea how to remedy it? In my opinion, Google is being deliberately deceitful in that they claim "Google automatically detects your computer’s location using its IP address, Location History (if it’s turned on), and recent locations you’ve searched for". because the last two don't apply to this browser or machine.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2016, 09:16:38 am by Halcyon »
 

Offline AntiProtonBoy

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2016, 07:06:35 am »
They might be able to tell from the telephone exchange which IP address is assigned to. However, I'm betting their estimation is based on a combination of factors, such as browsing habits, and mobile devices (with GPS and other geolocation services) connected to your WiFi network, which ultimately communicates with the internet via your external IP address.

To minimise such tracking, use privacy plugins with your browser, such as uMatrix, uBlock Origin, Self Destructing Cookies, HTTPS Everywhere. For your network, use a VPN, with an exit point somewhere else on this planet. As for mobile devices, disable location services for all apps and restrict network access to them as well. White list only the apps you use regularly. You might want to delete google applications, if you are very concerned.
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2016, 07:10:27 am »
They might be able to tell from the telephone exchange which IP address is assigned to. However, I'm betting their estimation is based on a combination of factors, such as browsing habits, and mobile devices (with GPS and other geolocation services) connected to your WiFi network, which ultimately communicates with the internet via your external IP address.

I doubt that's the case. I've never known that to actually be accurate in Australia.

I also don't use location on my phone unless I specifically need it for Google Maps, then it gets manually turned back off again. As for browsing habits, I've specifically set those settings not to keep any search history. My browsers also delete cookies every time they are closed (even on my phone). The only browser I trust not to leak location information is Internet Explorer (mainly because it's a bit dumb, but hey, it works).

The only think I can possibly think of are other people who have been using my WiFi network when they are here with less secure handsets/settings etc... if that's the case, is there a tool I can run to "reset" that location to somewhere else?
 

Offline blueskull

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2016, 07:19:51 am »
Google correlates IP with address. If your phone ever reported your cellular tower location or GPS location, when you use Google, you phone will tell Google that IP belongs to that address.
Then even if you moved to your computer, Google still knows that IP belongs to a certain address.
Turning off GPS does not guarantee your address won't be revealed as cell tower trigonometry is quite accurate and can operate without your permission.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2016, 07:20:54 am »
I also checked using several of those "show your location based on IP address" websites and they all bring back fairly predicable results (which was expected), in that they place me somewhere in the general vicinity of Sydney, some can't even pick the right state. But for Google to know my location within 10KM simply based on IP address? I don't buy it.

You're worried about a 10km radius?  :-//
My IP address has always put me in my suburb, easily within 10km of my house.
 

Offline 2N3055

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2016, 07:23:39 am »
I also don't use location on my phone unless I specifically need it for Google Maps, then it gets manually turned back off again.

That alone is enough... It keeps location history... And than it combines that data with other data and converges...

I think there is a setting in your Google account to forbid it to gather location history..

But basically, it knows.. Also, they can track down IP's to pretty much last mile...
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2016, 07:28:39 am »
Google correlates IP with address. If your phone ever reported your cellular tower location or GPS location, when you use Google, you phone will tell Google that IP belongs to that address.
Then even if you moved to your computer, Google still knows that IP belongs to a certain address.
Turning off GPS does not guarantee your address won't be revealed as cell tower trigonometry is quite accurate and can operate without your permission.

The only thing Google can know about cell tower information and my location is if it were to report back to Google that "Cell tower ID xyz is at this location". It can't just go and do a triangulation via Push MOLI or any other method. That said, I have specifically disabled all location services and history, in that respect it shouldn't be doing this.

This is only a new thing. It never happened at any previous addresses. The only differences being is I've let other people use my WiFi when visiting, so I suspect it's their device feeding the data back. I guess if there is a way to set it, there is a way to re-set it.

But basically, it knows.. Also, they can track down IP's to pretty much last mile...

Not sure how it works there, but here, the best you'll get is the registered address of the ISP who's been assigned that IP address/range. The people who can pull any further details about "Who logged on from this IP address and where are they" are the Police and Emergency Services, Telcos themselves (under specific orders) and Government Security Agencies. It's not public information.

The only way that Google or any other website can link my IP with a location is if some device or software has reported location information back and they are storing it that way.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2016, 07:31:35 am by Halcyon »
 

Offline JPortici

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2016, 07:30:59 am »
Something I noticed the other day, when I use the Google search engine on my desktop, right down the bottom it has estimated my location "based on my IP address" apparently. The worrying thing is, it's pretty darn accurate.

Now, I don't use any other Google services except for Gmail (nor any social media for that matter), I don't use any location services apart from Google Maps (and even then I've set it to never store my location history). I've gone through absolutely every setting I can find to ensure anything remotely linked to location is turned off, yet it's still managing to pull this data from somewhere. It even occurs if I use a browser that I have never signed into Gmail on and cookies are cleared.

I also checked using several of those "show your location based on IP address" websites and they all bring back fairly predicable results (which was expected), in that they place me somewhere in the general vicinity of Sydney, some can't even pick the right state. But for Google to know my location within 10KM simply based on IP address? I don't buy it.

Has anyone else come across this and any idea how to remedy it? In my opinion, Google is being deliberately deceitful in that they claim "Google automatically detects your computer’s location using its IP address, Location History (if it’s turned on), and recent locations you’ve searched for". because the last two don't apply to this browser or machine.
not surprising, usually those location - from - IP are pretty accurate here. a combination of data from ip and cell tower.. plus last time i checked public wifi (also that one in bars) has to be registered to a person's name and address
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2016, 07:32:56 am »
I actually suspect it's my partners iPhone. Who bloody knows what information that it's leaking out and is being linked to this IP.
 

Offline tautech

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2016, 07:36:01 am »
Something I noticed the other day, when I use the Google search engine on my desktop, right down the bottom it has estimated my location "based on my IP address" apparently. The worrying thing is, it's pretty darn accurate.
................
I use it almost exclusively but I've not seen or noticed that.
Oh shite, you're right. But it showed only the city: Auckland.  :phew:
Turned mine off.

Those of us that have websites and check the Stats can easily see the IP addresses of the hits, my hoster also provides the country and city as no doubt many other do too.
Avid Rabid Hobbyist
 

Offline Srbel

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2016, 07:41:22 am »
What did you expect from a globalist scum company like Google...
 

Offline 2N3055

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2016, 07:44:17 am »
It triangulates from ALL known sources, also historic data... And than converges to solutions, including time of day and perceived usage patterns..
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2016, 07:47:18 am »
I also checked using several of those "show your location based on IP address" websites and they all bring back fairly predicable results (which was expected), in that they place me somewhere in the general vicinity of Sydney, some can't even pick the right state. But for Google to know my location within 10KM simply based on IP address? I don't buy it.

You're worried about a 10km radius?  :-//
My IP address has always put me in my suburb, easily within 10km of my house.

Not really the point Dave. No browser or website should be recording that kind of information unless I specifically tell it to. Now granted, I can't control what other people do with or have installed on their phones while they are connected to my Wi-Fi network, but to almost permanently* associate my fixed IP address with whatever location information their phones have been spewing out, that's not cool. At the very least, I should be able to go in and delete it or manually amend it, but Google being Google of course don't allow you to do that.

How do I know that information isn't been stored or shared elsewhere for anyone to look up? All it would take for Google is to share/sell that "This IP address is located in this suburb" to some public site where anyone can punch my IP in and get a rough idea of where I live. You start pairing that information with other small bits of information publically available, you get a pretty good indication of where they live. I've successfully managed to find out where some members of this forum live (down to their actual house number) using nothing but their posts here and Google**.

* I say permanently because I haven't found a way to alter it yet.
** Not because I'm a stalker, but I do this kind of stuff for a living (INFOSEC that is, not stalking).
« Last Edit: November 15, 2016, 07:51:12 am by Halcyon »
 

Offline Jeroen3

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2016, 07:49:17 am »
If anyone on your network use google services with GPS location enabled. They can connect your WAN ip with your ~50m radius location.
 

Offline apelly

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2016, 07:52:52 am »
https://www.whatismyip.com/

There are shitloads of others.

IPv6 might be better, only because there are so many more of them.
I'd rather a Google clue, link, or some theory than "do this" (generally)
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2016, 07:58:34 am »
https://www.whatismyip.com/

There are shitloads of others.

IPv6 might be better, only because there are so many more of them.

Yeah I get that, but all those sites are inaccurate (sometimes to 100's of kilometres) and I'd like to keep it that way.
 

Offline tautech

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2016, 08:01:18 am »
https://www.whatismyip.com/

There are shitloads of others.

IPv6 might be better, only because there are so many more of them.
This one is linked to others and shows 5 for my IP, none of which are at all accurate.
https://www.iplocation.net/index.php
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Offline apelly

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2016, 08:04:47 am »
Yeah I get that, but all those sites are inaccurate (sometimes to 100's of kilometres) and I'd like to keep it that way.
There's nothing you can do about it. There are limited IP addresses. The owners are known, and they can easily be pinpointed to the reoter in charge of their subnet. Can't get better than that for dynamic IPs. In my experience static ones resolve to their data center. Haven't looked at a static one used privately.

Try a VPN. There are some fairly cheap ones, but there is a speed overhead usually.
I'd rather a Google clue, link, or some theory than "do this" (generally)
 

Offline AntiProtonBoy

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2016, 08:06:17 am »
I doubt that's the case. I've never known that to actually be accurate in Australia.

I also don't use location on my phone unless I specifically need it for Google Maps, then it gets manually turned back off again. As for browsing habits, I've specifically set those settings not to keep any search history. My browsers also delete cookies every time they are closed (even on my phone). The only browser I trust not to leak location information is Internet Explorer (mainly because it's a bit dumb, but hey, it works).

The only think I can possibly think of are other people who have been using my WiFi network when they are here with less secure handsets/settings etc... if that's the case, is there a tool I can run to "reset" that location to somewhere else?
One thing google is *really* good at is statistical inference from data. Note that deleting cookies may not be enough. Each browser has a useragent fingerprint of some description, which can serve as a means to identify unique users. There are also databases specialising in linking IP addresses with geolocations. When google starts using sufficiently number of different sources to analyse your IP's activity, they can build a fairly accurate picture of where you are.
 

Offline RoGeorge

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2016, 08:08:31 am »
Assuming privacy in the Internet Age?!  :wtf:
             :-DD

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #20 on: November 15, 2016, 08:09:36 am »
Yeah I get that, but all those sites are inaccurate (sometimes to 100's of kilometres) and I'd like to keep it that way.
There's nothing you can do about it. There are limited IP addresses. The owners are known, and they can easily be pinpointed to the reoter in charge of their subnet. Can't get better than that for dynamic IPs. In my experience static ones resolve to their data center. Haven't looked at a static one used privately.

Try a VPN. There are some fairly cheap ones, but there is a speed overhead usually.

I think you're missing the point. IP address allocation information is public to the point of you can link an IP address to the address of the Telco/Data centre/Head office etc... if you just so happen to live in the same town, unlucky, but for the majority of people, location information via IP address is total crap (in fact one of those sites thinks I'm in Adelaide, because that's apparently where a Telstra building is?!).

What is not public information is linking an IP address to an exchange, node or any other "local" interconnect. In Australia at least, that stuff has never been public (even in the dial-up days) and is not likely to be anytime soon. You used to get more accurate results back then because most people dialled in to their local ISP (because they didn't have to pay long distance or STD rates).

What's happened here is Google collect information about my IP (which you can't really prevent) and pairing it to whatever location information is coming out of that same pipe.
 

Offline apelly

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #21 on: November 15, 2016, 08:21:54 am »
I think you're missing the point.
Thank you for explaining.
I'd rather a Google clue, link, or some theory than "do this" (generally)
 

Offline AntiProtonBoy

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #22 on: November 15, 2016, 08:25:36 am »
What's happened here is Google collect information about my IP (which you can't really prevent) and pairing it to whatever location information is coming out of that same pipe.
Do you have a dynamic IP address? I'm not 100% sure on this, but one possibly is that you are part of an address pool assigned to your local exchange that gets rotated between users in your area. Which means, someone could've used your current IP address at some point and revealed the geolocation via their own usage habits.
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #23 on: November 15, 2016, 08:26:39 am »
What's happened here is Google collect information about my IP (which you can't really prevent) and pairing it to whatever location information is coming out of that same pipe.
Do you have a dynamic IP address? I'm not 100% sure on this, but one possibly is that you are part of an address pool assigned to your local exchange that gets rotated between users in your area. Which means, someone could've used your current IP address at some point and revealed the geolocation via their own usage habits.

Nope, static.
 

Offline AntiProtonBoy

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Re: Apparently Google search knows my location?!
« Reply #24 on: November 15, 2016, 08:29:09 am »
Do you have friends, guests, GF, or the cat accessing your WiFi network?
 


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