Google reportedly collects users’ location information via Android phones even when GPS is turned off. According to a report in Quartz, the technology major has been tracking location data even if a user disables GPS, apps, and even removes SIM card from an Android smartphone. The investigation shows that Android smartphones deliver the details to Google when the mobile is connected to the web. The report claimed that the location sharing feature has been working since the beginning of 2017. Google basically collects cellular tower locations even if the location services are not working. Interestingly, the report said that Google has acknowledged the issue and given a statement regarding it.
A spokesperson from Google has been cited by Quartz as saying that the tech giant has been collecting mobile tower addresses with an aim to better the delivery of push notifications and SMS on Android mobiles. Google confirmed that the service has been live for over 11 months now. However, the spokesperson has claimed that the data collected from users’ phones were not stored in any form. The spokesperson was also quoted as saying that the company will stop users’ cell tower address data by the even of this month. This feature active on Google Android phones has raised several questions about users’ data privacy and security. Smartphone users may not always want the phone manufacturers to track them and that too without giving them the option of turning off. However, while it is all right to panic over the service, Google has notified the details regarding the functionality and they appear to be convincing.
Meanwhile, Google has reportedly said, “Android phones will no longer send cell-tower location data to Google, at least as part of this particular service, which consumers cannot disable.” Here is what the company said in an email to Quartz: “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.”