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If you don’t want to give your photos to Google anymore, it’ll steal them

Published Jul 14th, 2015 10:35AM EDT
Google Photos Auto Backup Feature
Image: Google

Google’s new Google Photos app has a bunch of new features users may appreciate, including automatic categorization and unlimited storage and backup, but the service is far from perfect. On top of the odd software issues you may encounter with face recognition or upload limits, there’s also a more annoying problem you should be aware of: Google Photos keeps uploading pictures to Google’s servers even after if you uninstall the app from your Android phone.

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That’s what a Nashville Business Journal reporter discovered recently, after finding recent photos of him, his wife and his daughter online. David Arnott had deleted Google Photos from his phone after trying the app, and yet the service kept backing up his images.

The problem with the way Google Photos backs up pictures is that it does so independently of the app on your phone. And that’s apparently exactly how Google wants it to work.

“All I had to do to turn my phone into a stealth Google Photos uploader was to turn on the backup sync, then uninstall the app,” Arnott wrote. “Whereas one might reasonably believe uninstalling the app from the phone would stop photos from uploading automatically to Google Photos, the device still does it even in the app’s absence. Since making this discovery, I have re-created the issue multiple times in multiple settings on my Galaxy S5.”

To fix the issue – which isn’t an issue to Google – you have to go to Google Play Services and disable the automatic uploads.

“In my personal case, I’m uncomfortable with the idea that Google had access to pictures of my daughter and used that access to develop information, without my knowledge, about what she looks like and where she spends time,” Arnott added. “For the more than 10 million people who have Google Photos on their phones, how many sexting images has Google obtained without users’ knowledge? How many people have been photographed and now subjected to Google’s recognition technology without the photographer’s knowledge?”

The full article on the matter is available at the source link. Meanwhile, you might want to make sure you have disabled uploads to Google Photos if you don’t plan to use the service.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.