May 23, 2018

Google Might Know More About Your Whereabouts Than You Think

23 November 2017, 12:27 | Camille Rivera

Android devices seen covertly sending location data to Google

Android phones still track you when location services are off

In fact, even if you remove the SIM card from your device, the phone will resume location sharing as soon as it connects to the internet again.

Quartz reported today that Android phones have been gathering your location data and sending it to Google, even if you turned off location services on your phone and no SIM card inside. Each time, these connected nodes (smartphones) came within the parameters range, the smartphones automatically started to send information to the towers of Google.

There is now no way for Android users to prevent their location data from being sent to Google, according to the report.

Google said that it collected the data to "further improve the speed and performance of message delivery" and the information was not stored but "immediately discarded".

In a rather technical statement emailed to USA TODAY, Google offered an explanation: "To ensure messages and notifications are received quickly, modern Android phones use a network sync system that requires the use of Mobile Country Codes (MCC) and Mobile Network Codes (MNC)".

A company spokeperson told Quartz that the cell tower location data harvesting has been going on from the last 11 months, and the cell tower addresses were included in information sent to the system so that it can use it to manage push notifications and messages on Android devices.

"By the end of November, the company said, Android phones will no longer send cell-tower location data to Google, at least as part of this particular service, which consumers can not disable", Quartz quoting Google Spokesperson has said. Quartz adds that Google confirmed the practice.

"While Google states in this instance it will stop the practice, this raises the question of what else it is doing beyond the knowledge of the user, and why".

Google has been collecting locations of cellular towers near to your device, even when your location services are turned off. These locations are used for advertising purposes, but also provide useful services to the owner such as motion tracking, fitness statistics, future commute suggestions and more. It's an age-old debate, and while most web surfers on the world's leading mobile and desktop operating systems can live with the occasional online behavior analysis, cookie collecting and location tracking, you have to draw the line somewhere. But outlets point out the description leaves room for transparency in regards to exactly what kind of data it's collecting. Google does allow advertisers to target consumers based on their location.

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