Even if Android Users turns off Google’s patent location services, the company agrees to track your current location through nearby cell towers
Google skeptical clarity on its data privacy and tracking location of customers has ascertained uproar again. As many say, buying an Android phone in a digital world is exposing oneself to the market.
Latest report from Quartz, reveals that Google has been able to access users’ data about their locations due to Android phones collecting addresses of cell towers. That data is then sent back to Google, which may be an invasion of privacy, the report says.
Google confirmed the practice to Quartz, but said that it was ending the practice at the end of the month, Quartz reported.
“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,” a Google spokesperson told Quartz. “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.”
“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 Google spokesman told Fox News.
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. However, the company said the data is “distinctly separate” from Location Services, which sends a device’s location to the applications.
Cell ID data only provides an approximate location of a mobile device, not a precise GPS location. However, a hacker could use other nearby cell towers to triangulate a user’s location to within a quarter-mile radius. A more narrow radius could be obtained for users in urban areas, where cell towers are much closer together.
Quartz found that the location-sharing was occurring on all modern Android devices. The report states that Android devices were sharing their location even when there was no SIM card installed and the user disabled location services.
A source familiar with the matter said it was not used for ad-serving purposes, but rather to improve what Google calls its “heartbeat system,” which ensures “that phones remain connected and that people get their messages.”