Android Phones 'Betray' User Location to Google

23 November, 2017, 01:46 | Author: Jacqueline Daniels
  • Android phones still track you when location services are off

The fact that a person's location can be tracked by a third party using his or her cellphone is hardly new.

Phones using Google's operating system, Android, have been covertly tracking their users' locations, even when a user has turned off their location services.

Phones running Android have been gathering data about a user's location and sending it back to Google when connected to the internet, with Quartz first revealing the practice has been occurring since January 2017.

"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. The company said it had collected the information to manage messages and push notifications, but it had never used the information nor stored it.

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The tech giant also said its practice to collect data from cell towers will stop at the end of November.

Google has admitted that it has been collecting the data from Android phones for the last 11 months, Quartz reported.

Google's privacy policy notes it may collect location information like IP addresses, Global Positioning System and "other sensors" when you use its services.

'Even when we take precautionary measures that go beyond what the average user would do, it appears we can not escape being tracked.

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"If Google is not careful it may well find itself the subject of not only regulatory fines in the UAE for violation of the regulations imposed by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority but also breach of individual consumer rights leading to civil and criminal actions", she said. At the beginning of 2017, Android smartphones started sending their locations to the cellular towers in the area, and then they sent them back to Google.

"MCC and MNC provide necessary network information for message and notification delivery and are distinctly separate from Location Services, which provide a device's location to apps". That is small comfort to the billions of Android users in a world which is becoming increasingly anxious about monitoring by both government and big business. Those more concerned about privacy may opt to switch off location services, something which is offered within Android and seemingly without any strings attached. Google has been tracking you anyway.

Beyond mapping services, location data is used for delivering the weather, localised news results, shopping services, augmented reality features and even things as mundane as the ability to pair two different wireless devices simply by colocation. A spokesman added: 'We never incorporated Cell ID into our network sync system, so that data was immediately discarded'. A Google representative said the company included that information in order to improve the performance and overall speed of messaging.

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