Android Phones Track Location Even With GPS Turned Off, Google Says It's to Improve Message Delivery

  hindi
Share on Facebook Tweet Share Share Reddit Comment
Android Phones Track Location Even With GPS Turned Off, Google Says It's to Improve Message Delivery

Highlights

  • Google was collecting user location data
  • It was done through collecting addresses of nearby cellular towers
  • Google to stop collecting user location through cellular towers

Google has been collecting user location data on Android smartphones even when location services were turned off, as per a new report. Quartz claims the location tracking still occurred on Android smartphones even if a user took precautionary measures like disabling location, not using any app, or not inserting a SIM card on the device.

The investigation by Quartz claims that an Android device sends these details when the device is connected to the Internet. The report says that the user location data tracking has been in practice since start of this year, and the company essentially collects addresses of nearby cellular towers, even when location services are turned off on the device. Quartz adds that Google confirmed the practice.

A Google spokesperson is quoted to have told Quartz that the company has been collecting cell tower addresses to improve delivery of push notifications and messages on Android devices for roughly 11 months. The spokesperson, however, added that the user location data was never stored. The Google spokesperson is also quoted to that it will stop collecting user location data in the form of cell-tower location by the end of November. "Android phones will no longer send cell-tower location data to Google, at least as part of this particular service, which consumers cannot disable," the company has said. The new report raises a lot of questions on user privacy where people might not like to be tracked but do not have the option to actually turn it off.

In an email, Google spokesperson said, "In January of this year, we began looking into using Cell ID codes as an additional signal to further improve the speed and performance of message delivery. However, we never incorporated Cell ID into our network sync system, so that data was immediately discarded, and we updated it to no longer request Cell ID." The report adds that even if the data sent to Google was encrypted, it could have been compromised.

Google in its terms of use for its services vaguely refers, "When you use Google services, we may collect and process information about your actual location. We use various technologies to determine location, including IP address, GPS, and other sensors that may, for example, provide Google with information on nearby devices, Wi-Fi access points and cell towers."

At this moment, it isn't clear the exact use case of the location tracking but it could be used for targeted advertising.

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Ketan Pratap

Ketan Pratap covers daily news and rumours at Gadgets 360. He attended IIMC (Indian Institute of Mass Communication), majoring in English Journalism. Ketan is a ... More

Xiaomi Redmi Y1, Redmi Y1 Lite to Go on Sale Today at 12pm: Price, Specifications, and More
OnePlus 5T and Its Predecessors Won't Support Google's Project Treble
 
 

Advertisement