Sci-tech

Google admits tracking users' location even when setting disabled

Google admits tracking users' location even when setting disabled

A recent report in Quartz, published on 21 November, claims that Android devices have been collecting location of nearby cell towers using cell tower triangulation and sending them to Google, even if the location services are turned off in the user's phone.

While some companies like Apple are incorporating ways to leverage mass amounts of data to improve their services while simultaneously promising to protect users' privacy, Google still essentially relies on its users opting in to its wide-ranging terms, even when they have no idea what they're giving up. The findings are surprising, given that cell tower data is usually held by carrier networks and only shared with outside companies under extreme circumstances.

Google has said by the end of this month it will no longer receive cell tower data, but still this comes as a revelation in a time when Internet users are perhaps rightfully paranoid about what is happening to their data. Google does offer details on how to control Google's location access points, though after reading through the instructions, the company could admittedly do a better job of making this clearer and simpler for its general consumers. They can disable this feature in Settings- Google- Location- Location history.

A spokesperson for Google reportedly said it used cell tower data to send push notifications and messages, but did not store the information.

How much freedom and privacy should you be allowed when buying into Apple, Microsoft or Google's electronic "ecosystem?"

Google (googl) confirmed that it was doing this, and said it would stop.

"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.

It's thought that all modern Android smartphones were subject to this method of tracking over the course of 2017.

Location tracking via smartphones is a common practice used by all the major players, either locally on the device or remotely on a server and is used to provide numerous services expected of a modern phone.

Cell ID data only provides an approximate location of a mobile device, not a precise Global Positioning System location.

"However, we never incorporated Cell ID into our network sync system [the system that delivers messages and notifications to your phone], so that data was immediately discarded, and we have updated it to no longer request Cell ID".

Users can restrict Google from collecting location data as well as their location history.

Had Google properly included Cell ID Codes as part of the Firebase core, it would have sent the data to Google's servers after each request.