Opera Help


What is geolocation? Why is it useful?

Geolocation is the process of determining your location on Earth. Although the concept of geolocation is often connected with GPS, there is more than one way to determine your location when you are on the internet. For example, your internet address (IP address) can be used to determine roughly where you are, even without the more advanced methods of geolocation.

Suppose that you want a more precise determination of your location than that provided by your IP address. For example, a website may want to know your location in order to provide you with a local map, or to identify a nearby restaurant or hotel. The Opera web browser (Opera) can tell the website approximately where you are, with the help of Google Location Services (GLS). Opera will always ask for your permission, and your privacy will always be respected.

How do I turn geolocation on?

When you visit a website that offers location-based web services, the site must first request access to your location data. Opera displays a dialog connected to the address bar badge, and asks to you to allow or deny access. Do you want to tell the site where you are? The following access settings are available:

Always allow (default)
Access will always be allowed when you visit this site
Allow once
Access will be allowed temporarily, until you exit the browser or reload the page. You will be asked again the next time you visit this site.
Access will always be denied. You will not be asked again when you visit this site.

Press “OK” to confirm your selection, or “Cancel” to escape the dialog. If you select “Cancel”, the site will ask you again the next time you go there.

If you allow access, Google Location Services' terms and conditions are presented, and if you agree to them, the service is activated. A geolocation indicator is displayed in the address bar badge.

If you at first deny access, but later change your mind, go to Preferences > Advanced > Network, and check "Enable geolocation".

How do I turn geolocation off?

To turn geolocation off in connection with a specific site, go to the site and click the address bar badge. Within the “Access settings” dialog, select “Deny”.

To turn geolocation off globally, go to Preferences > Advanced > Network, and uncheck "Enable geolocation".

How does geolocation work? How well does it work?

It depends on the device, and its way of connecting to the internet.

If the device is a desktop computer, without any wireless connections, the IP address is used to determine the device's location, and the measurement is rather crude.

To determine the location of a laptop or other wireless device, Opera may in addition send the following data from nearby Wi-Fi access points:

A database of known Wi-Fi access points, together with measured signal strength, makes it possible to give rather precise location information. The success of this method depends largely on the concentration of known access points.

If the device is connected to a mobile telephone network, location data may include cell IDS of the cell towers closest to you, and their signal strength. If the device is GPS-enabled, the location may be obtained via GPS.

Any or all of the above methods may be used to determine the device's location, if the device has sufficient connectivity. In what follows, we refer to this data as the "location data".

How do I know that a webpage is using location data?

When you first go to a webpage that uses location data, Opera tells you, and you decide whether or not to send the data. Thereafter, a geolocation indicator appears in the address bar badge connected with that site. If you click on the badge, and select "Access settings", you can change to any of the three settings: "Always allow", "Allow once", or "Deny".

How is my privacy protected?

Every time a website requests your location data, Opera tells you, and asks your permission to send it.

With your permission, Opera passes the location data to Google Location Services, and sends an estimated latitude and longitude to the website. Opera does not save location data, nor are any cookies generated. Every time your location is requested, Opera redetermines the location data.

The data passed to Google includes location data, plus a random client identifier (opera:config#Geolocation|AccessToken) assigned by Google, that expires after 2 weeks. The client identifier is used to distinguish requests, not to identify you. The data passed to Google is governed by Google's own Privacy Policy.

The location information sent to the website is governed by the website's privacy policy. It is the responsibility of the website to dispose of this information in a way that is consistent with the W3C's Geolocation API Specification.

See also: Opera Software's Privacy Statement