Science

Google admits it tracks us even with location services turned off

Google admits it tracks us even with location services turned off”

I has also been reported that the even if an Android device did not have a sim card in it, when switched on and in the vicinity of a network tower, the device would collect the information and if connected to the internet with a sim card or via WiFi, data would then be sent to Google.

"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", the spokesperson reportedly 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. 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.

"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", the statement continued.

Google's Android operating system began requesting the unique addresses of mobile phone masts, called Cell ID, during the beginning of 2017, according to one report.

We all know that smartphones and other mobile devices might use your location to expand the capabilities of various apps and services. It uses the location history to offer better recommendations from Google Assistant or traffic predictions in Maps.

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Users who turn off location services do so with the obvious expectation that no entity - apart, perhaps, from law enforcement agents wielding Stingrays or mobile carriers who owned cellular towers - can be able to track their movements throughout the day.

Meanwhile, the section of Google's privacy policy that covers location sharing states, "When you use Google services, we may collect and process information about your actual location". Triangulating between cell towers will reveal a device's location to a high degree of accuracy, especially in urban areas where towers are more common.

The report adds that even if the data sent to Google was encrypted, it could have been compromised.

Every time a device with a cellular data or WiFi connection came within range of a new cell tower, it would broadcast the addresses of nearby cellular towers and send the data to Google.

It's unclear if Google would have moved towards discontinuing this unhanded location data collection if Quartz had not found it out and contacted them. The tech giant promised to roll out an update that removes the cell ID collecting feature by the end of this month.

How much freedom and privacy should you be allowed when buying into Apple, Microsoft or Google's electronic "ecosystem?" Google's entire business is built on extensive amounts of data. It's a practice that customers can't opt out of - even if their phones are factory reset.



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