Most browsers include a feature to identify the location of the user, similar to the way that a mobile phone carrier can detect the current location of their subscriber or the way that a mobile phone with GPS capability can find you and other locations. Geolocation is a feature in new versions of web browsers. It can be found in other applications that will try to assess or determine the user's location to provide customized services.
The first time you visit a website that requests geolocation information, the browser should display the Google Location Service’s terms and conditions. You will have the option to allow or disallow the browser from sending your location data. The screenshot at the left is an example how a website asks for your location information.
What is sent to websites that requires location data?
Your IP address is sent to the website that requests the location information. If you are using a laptop or other wireless-enabled device, the MAC address and signal strength can be sent as well. The browser should not save location data, nor are any cookies generated by websites that request the location information. Other websites will not be able to retrieve it, but it’s recommended to regularly clean your temporary Internet files, browsing history and stored cookies.
Most privacy-conscious users do not want to have geolocation enabled. This guide will cover how you can turn Google Chrome geolocation off and how you can turn off geolocation in other popular browsers.
Is Your Browser’s Geolocation Enabled?
Before you decide to turn geolocation off, you can determine if the browser you use can detect your location or if it even supports geolocation features. Simply visit the browser HTML 5 geolocation test page by Ben Werdmuller to find out: https://benwerd.com/lab/geo.php
The image at the left is an example of a geolocation test, in which it detected Opera browser, which supports geolocation, but it couldn’t detect my location since I have the feature disabled.
Turn Internet Explorer Geolocation Off
Internet Explorer 8 and earlier versions do not support geolocation, but IE9 supports the feature. If you are using version 9 of the IE browser, you can simply turn off the Geolocation feature in Internet Options > Privacy > Location. Put a check in the box before Never allow websites to request your physical location. Click OK to apply the changes and then restart the browser.
Turn off Geolocation in Firefox and Opera browsers
Disabling geolocation in the Firefox browser requires accessing the advanced configuration setting. Simply type about:config in the address bar of Firefox and hit the enter key on the keyboard. Click the box “I’ll be careful, I promise!” to proceed using the option.
In the filter box, type geo. (Type the keyword geo with a period at the end) The browser should display two preference names: geo.enabled and geo.wifi.uri. Double-click geo.enabled to disable geolocation. Double-click geo.wifi.uri and then type localhost to replace the web address, https://www.google.com/loc/json.
There are two methods to disable geolocation feature in the Opera browser:
Method 1: Opera Preferences > Advanced tab > Network. Uncheck the box for Enable geolocation.
Method 2: Type about about:config in the Opera URL address bar, locate and select to expand geolocation in the thepreferences editor. Uncheck the box for enable geolocation, and delete https://www.google.com/loc/json in the location provider URL and then type localhost. Click the Save button and restart the browser.
Turn Google Chrome Geolocation Off
Google Chrome also allows you to disable geolocation. Just go to Options > Under the Bonnet tab > Content settings button under Privacy. Click Location at the left and then select the radio button for do not allow any site to track my physical location. Click OK to apply the changes and restart the browser.
Disable Geolocation in the Safari browser
It’s also easy to disable geolocation in the Apple Safari browser. In preferences’ Security tab, uncheck the box for location services to prevent websites from finding your location.
Source: Author Experience
Image Credit: Screenshot taken by the author