Location Data from Android Devices Being Sent to Google Covertly
- Author: Essie Rivera Nov 22, 2017,
Nov 22, 2017, 0:18
Android phones gather your location data and send it to Google, even if you've turned off location services and don't have a SIM card, Quartz reported today. They state that Google was able to track user locations by triangulating which cell towers were at the time servicing the specific device.
The spokesperson said that the Cell ID data was required to enhance the speed of message delivery, but the data collected was "immediately discarded" and the network sync system was recently instructed to no longer request it.
Google admits it grabs data on individuals' locations from Android phones with just an internet connection.
Google is no stranger to controversies over privacy, but a new revelation about Android phones is pretty chilling.
A spokesperson from the firm also said that Location Services are "distinctly separate" from the system that controls push notifications and messages.
The publication also added that the search giant has said it is now taking steps to end this practice.
Even if you take Google for face value in this situation, it is very sensitive data that it was collecting without people even being aware of what was going on. It's for this reason that companies like Apple and Google give users the option to disable location sharing; although both companies will often tell you that this will result in a less than optimal experience for services that rely on that data.
It is well known that phones can pinpoint their surroundings while the location services are turned on, in order to use when they are using Google Maps or apps that need geographical information to function.
You thought you were completely disconnected from any location tracking by Google and your phone when you went into your phone's location services and toggled them off, right? Although the location data was encrypted, it could have opened an unexpected hole in an already vulnerable system. After Quartz contacted the company to discuss the data collection, Google confirmed the findings. The company says the data was never stored on its servers. Even if there is no SIM card on a phone, it still uses WiFi to send the tower address.
As for what's being collected, the data is not as accurate as it could be.
It is unclear how identifying the nearest cell tower could be used to improve Google's message services.