How Find My Device protects your data

Find My Device allows you to locate, secure, and erase your lost Android device. In addition to helping you find your device when it's online, Find My Device also has offline finding features that can help you find your device and accessories even if they're offline.

By default, your Android device stores encrypted recent locations with Google and participates in the Find My Device network, a crowdsourced network of Android devices that uses end-to-end encrypted location information to help you and other Android users find their lost devices.

If these offline finding features are enabled on your device, Find My Device will use the best source available — your device's current location if it's online, a stored encrypted recent location from when your device was last online, or a crowdsourced encrypted location from other Android devices in the Find My Device network — to help you find your device.

Find My Device collects and processes data for the purposes of providing, maintaining, and improving these services, as described further below. The data processed by Find My Device is handled in accordance with the Google Privacy Policy.

Finding your online devices

When you use Find My Device to help find an online device, Find My Device communicates with your lost Android device and collects its current location and other information such as your device’s battery level, the Wi-Fi network it's connected to, and the strength of its Wi-Fi and cellular signal. Find My Device displays this information in the app to help you find your lost device.

Find My Device also collects information such as connection events (for example, when your earbuds were last connected to your phone) to help you find your accessories by displaying the location of the device to which your accessory is currently connected.

Find My Device also collects identifiers that associate your Android devices and accessories to your Google Account, and information about actions taken through Find My Device, such as whether your Google Account was used to lock or erase your device, and whether the action was completed successfully.

Finding your offline devices

Your lost device may not always be online. To help you find your offline devices, Find My Device can also collect, store, and use encrypted location information sent by your Android device and others participating in the Find My Device network.

Leveraging the power of a crowdsourced network of Android devices, the Find My Device network can help you find a wide range of items, including Android phones and tablets that are offline, Fast Pair accessories like compatible earbuds, and tracker tags that you can attach to physical assets like your wallet, keys, or bike.

The network has been developed with advanced safeguards, including end-to-end encryption, to help protect the privacy of everyone participating in the network.

How does crowdsourcing work?

Android devices participating in the Find My Device network use Bluetooth to scan for nearby items. If they detect your items, they securely send the location where they detected the items to Find My Device. Your Android device does the same to help others find their lost items when it detects them nearby.

End-to-end encryption

The Find My Device network encrypts the locations of your items using a unique key that only you can access by entering your Android device’s PIN, pattern, or password.

This end-to-end encryption, which is backed by the same technology used by Google Password Manager to secure your passwords, ensures that the locations of your items are private from Google. They're only visible to you and those you share your items with in Find My Device.

Important: If you haven't set a PIN, pattern, or password on your Android device, you must set one to take advantage of Find My Device network.

Data processed by the network

In addition to end-to-end encrypted locations, the Find My Device network processes data such as temporary device identifiers, timestamps when your device detects an item and when you request the location of your lost items, and info about the Fast Pair accessories that you have paired to your device or share with others. The Find My Device network uses this data for reasons like implementing features, delivering location info to the right person when an item is lost, and providing privacy and anti-abuse protections, such as the aggregation feature described below. Importantly, Google can’t identify you when your Android device shares the location of a detected item.

Individuals using the Find My Device network to find their lost items don’t receive any information from the network other than the location where their item was detected and approximately when their item was last seen.

Controlling how your device participates in the network

You can control how your Android device participates in the network at any time by visiting “Find your offline devices” in the Find My Device settings and choosing between the following options:

This image shows Find my device screen on your deviceThis images shows the options when you tap the find your offline devices page on your device

“Off”

If you'd prefer not to participate in the Find My Device network or have the ability to find your own items when they are offline by storing encrypted recent locations with Google, you can choose to turn off these offline finding features completely.

Even if you turn off offline finding, you can still use Find My Device to locate, secure, and erase your device or any connected FastPair accessories when they're online. If you don’t want to use Find My Device at all, you can go to Settings and then Google and then All services (if tabs exist) and then Find My Device and then Check that “Use Find My Device” is set to off to turn it off.

“Without network”

If you prefer not to participate in the Find My Device network, you can still find some of your items when they're offline, including your Android device and the Fast Pair accessories connected to it, like earbuds, by storing their encrypted recent locations with Google.

With this option, you can’t use tracker tags to find items like your wallet, keys, or bike, and you can’t rely on the broader network of Android devices to help you find your items. However, your Android device periodically sends an encrypted location for itself and its connected accessories to Find My Device. Only the most recent encrypted location for your device or accessory is stored.

Important:

  • If you have a PIN, pattern, or password set on your Android device, the recent location info is encrypted using a unique key that only you can access by entering your Android device’s PIN, pattern, or password.
  • If you don’t have a PIN, pattern, or password set on your Android device, you can still use this feature. The recent location info is encrypted using a unique key that only you can access by entering your Google Account password.
  • If your device is running Android 8.0 or lower, it can't participate in the broader crowdsourced Find My Device network but your device will still store encrypted recent locations for itself and any connected accessories with Google. By storing an encrypted recent location, Find My Device can help you find your lost items even if they're offline when you search for them. On Android 8.0 and lower, you can adjust this setting at Settings and then Google and then All Services (if tabs exist) and then Find My Device and then Store recent location.

“With network in high-traffic areas only”

By default, your Android device helps others find their items in higher-traffic areas. You also receive help finding your items in higher-traffic areas.

When the owner of a lost item requests its location, the Find My Device network will — by default — aggregate the location sent by your device with locations sent from several other Android devices that also detected the lost item.

What is aggregation?

With aggregation, the Find My Device network waits until multiple Android devices have detected a lost item. Find My Device then shows the owner of the lost item a center point calculated from the multiple location reports.

This helps people, including you, find items in higher-traffic areas where items are most often lost, like airports or busy footpaths, while helping protect the privacy of everyone whose Android devices share location info to the network.

Important: When you participate in the network, your Android device also stores encrypted recent locations for itself and connected accessories with Google. You can read more about this function under Without network. Find My Device uses the best location available, whether from your own device or crowdsourced from the broader network, to help you find your item.

“With network in all areas”

If you want the Find My Device network to help you find your lost items in lower-traffic areas, you can opt in to sharing location info through the network to help others find lost items even when your device is the only one that has detected and shared a location for the item. Users who turn on this option help each other find items in both higher-traffic and lower-traffic areas. This option may help you find your lost items more quickly.

Important: When you participate in the network, your Android device also stores encrypted recent locations for itself and connected accessories with Google. You can read more about this function under Without network. Find My Device uses the best location available, whether from your own device or crowdsourced from the broader network, to help you find your item.

Tip: You can delete all devices and their locations through the Find My Device app at any time.

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