Google caught receiving location data from Android phones

22 November, 2017, 01:27 | Author: Rolando Keller
  • Google caught receiving location data from Android phones

Quartz estimates that the location of basically all modern Android devices was collected, even phones coming off factory reset and ones without SIM card.

It is well known that phones can pinpoint their surroundings while the location services are turned on, in order to use when they are using Google Maps or apps that need geographical information to function.

It was found that this was due to the Google collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers and this data being sent back to the tech giant.

The addresses are sent to the system the Menlo Park based search company uses to manage push notifications and messages.

The company claims that the data was never incorporated into its systems and was immediately discarded. Google confirmed the practice to Quartz.

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Google failed to explain why it's stopping data collection now that it has been discovered, but it did say that the practice will be stopped.

Back in January of this year, Google started collecting user location data another way-bypassing its permission structure that allowed users the ability to opt out of having their location tracked. Google told Quartz that this practice has existed for 11 months, but that the information was never stored or used and furthermore that the process will now be ended.

The term "location services" oftentimes refers to exact Global Positioning System data for app usage, such as Google Maps finding your best commute route, or Uber figuring out exactly where you're standing to let drivers know your pickup point. That's especially true looking at it from a security perspective, as this cell tower data could be compromised if an Android device were to be stolen. The most troubling part is that this has been going on even when users have disabled location services.

However, a source reportedly told Quartz that Google added in the collection of cell tower addresses as an improvement for its Firebase Cloud Messaging.

The fact that Google tracks location data for those who think they've protected themselves is quite concerning as far as privacy goes. Google demands that the app must present a unique icon and persistent notification so the user can clearly identify it. Google has also asked app owners to make these changes in the app in 7 days, otherwise, it will be removed from Play Store. The company has an app as well as a website for accessing the Google Calendar.

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