If you didn’t know already, Google Chrome keeps track of your location, not you specifically, but the browser that’s being used in that very moment. Now, it isn’t because of some data overload–usually–but rather, content can actually be altered and it’s based entirely on your location, even if you fake your location.
Advertisement is one of the biggest contributing factors to needing your location, well, ‘wanting’ is more accurate of a word. Ads you see can be based on your location, considering your location’s consumer reports can and will differ greatly from another location, say, on the other side of the country. For example, you might see a lot of farming advertisements if your area is known for having a large hand in farming.
Another contributing factor–and by far the largest–is the content you see, and not necessarily on a local level, but rather a national level. Not every country follows the same laws regarding content people can view. If you move to, say, the UK, you might have access to shows and movies that are available there, but not in the United States and vice versa. And it applies to streaming services like Hulu and Netflix.
Why you want your location faked on Google Chrome is entirely up to you. In this day and age, data is collected just from simply visiting a location and–as it’s well known now–data is collected and sold off. That doesn’t sit well with people when privacy is a big concern and valuable to many. You might want to watch some media you can’t in your country or perhaps you want to access a server better than the one you’re using or get the scoop on news from a different area. Again, your reasons are your own and it really isn’t the focus.
So, how exactly do you fake your location in Google Chrome? And, just as important, how does Google Chrome known your location in the first place?
How Google Chrome Knows Your Location
Google Chrome pulls from a lot of different sources to get an idea of what your location is. While it may seem strange for an entity to go to such great lengths, but remember: Google is in the business of collection information. Knowing your location isn’t all bad, especially if you need to find a device you’ve lost. Without having GPS enabled, you’re going to have a very bad time finding it.
With that being said, Google Chrome has a few tricks up its sleeve that includes:
Reading Your GPS
Pick up any widely used electronic device and chances are it has some form of GPS technology built into the hardware itself. Do you have a mobile device like a smartphone or cellphone? It has GPS built into it. Do you have a tablet sitting at home? Gut the device and you’ll find GPS technology. Even the computer you’re using to read this has GPS capabilities.
This GPS receiver–the hardware built into your devices–gets the signal being transmitted from satellites floating gracefully in orbit above the Earth. And through signal strength and timestamps, gets the position relative to the data that was collected; you then have your position on the planet, thanks to Google having access to said information. It’s like a really complicated game of Where’s Waldo? but thousands of miles between a GPS receiver and satellites.
Reading Your Router’s BSSID
Whether you’re using a Wi-Fi signal or you’re hooked up to a router, within that signal is a BSSID, or ‘Basic Service Set Identifier.’ Now, Google Chrome doesn’t actually use your BSSID to get a clue on your location; it’s more or less an indirect side effect of being so closely related to your router. You connect to a network, the BSSID gets information on your GPS and stores it.
However, BSSID is public information. You can glean some information on what’s been connected to a particular BSSID and, by extension, the GPS location of your session of Google Chrome.
Reading Your IP Address
Of course, there’s always information of your location connected to your IP address. Funny enough, your IP address is one of the key components in actually faking your location, which will be addressed shortly. Your IP address may not give an exact location, but what it can do is, at the very least, give Google a roundabout radius. You can usually get down to as close as the city you live in.
Spoof Your Location with Google Chrome
Google Chrome has the option to spoof your location by adding a custom location. It isn’t perfect and the native tools have to be set every single time you open Google Chrome. So, instead, you can use Location Guard to do the work for you.
Location Guard is a Google Chrome extension that, when installed, can give you the tools to fake your location. It’s a really helpful tool for those that don’t want to invest in a VPN just yet or want to dip their toe into winning back some of their privacy.
1. Open up Google Chrome and head on over to the Chrome Web Store website. Click on the search bar in the top left corner of the page and type in “Location Guard” and hit the Enter key.
2. From the search results, look for Location Guard (it should be towards the top). The screenshot showcases a black and white pin, as well as a shot of Google Maps. Click Add to Chrome.
3. When prompted, Google Chrome will let you know what the extension will get access to and, if you’re okay with what it wants, click Add extension.
4. Once added, Location Guard will start automatically and provide a step-by-step guide on how it works. Click Next -> to get started.
Spoofing Your Location with a VPN
The previous solution is fine and dandy, but if you want to really shroud yourself, then get a VPN, or ‘Virtual Private Network.’ It is by far one of the best ways to fake your location, in fact, that’s one of the main features VPNs advertise. It even doubles as a layer of security.
VPN is all about security–through encryption–and anonymity. And because of those two main focus points, it opens a gateway to some very nice benefits. For example, your IP address is known by Google Chrome. Well, use a VPN and you can easily fake your location. You can make Google Chrome think you’re on the other side of the Globe. Not bad, right?
With the power to fake your location, you can spoof your IP to a different country, thereby gaining access to content that may not be available in your country. It’s a really popular solution for citizens living in countries with stricter laws.
Here’s a few VPNs to consider, some of the best, in fact:
You’ve probably heard of ExpressVPN on the telly and a number of YouTubers get sponsors from ExpressVPN. It’s one of the best and their encryption–that which protects your data from being looked at–is some of the best in the business.
Another really great VPN that makes its way to the top in terms of quality is NordVPN. You get data encryption and all the features that a VPN offers.
As for which one you choose is entirely up to you. Both are great, however, those two are only two of the many good VPNs out there. Just a word to the wise: don’t use free VPNs because they almost always use PPTP protocol–a type of data encryption–and, to be frank, it’s terrible and easily breakable.