Android Smartphones Stealthingly Sharing User Location Data with Google

Android Smartphones Stealthingly Sharing User Location Data with Google

Android Smartphones Stealthingly Sharing User Location Data with Google

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

From January, the company was requesting Cell ID data to track individual devices, even if they didn't have an active SIM in their phone or any apps installed.

The data collection was uncovered in an investigation by Quartz magazine, and Google confirmed that phones collect the addresses of nearby phone towers.

While never storing the location information, Google used the data to manage push notifications and improve message delivery, a Google spokesperson told Quartz.

Google says that it didn't share location data with any third-party apps and doesn't use the data, we know that it allows advertisers to target consumers using location data.

Google's justification that location data improves "the speed and performance of message delivery" sounds ridiculous.

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As for what's being collected, the data is not as accurate as it could be.

Tech companies like Google and Facebook provide services in exchange for your data. It's for this reason that companies like Apple and Google give users the option to disable location sharing; although both companies will often tell you that this will result in a less than optimal experience for services that rely on that data. Firebase Cloud Messaging is set to run by default on Android smartphones. With location tracking, Google has always made it possible to opt out, but according to a new report, Android has been forcing location tracking on you whether you like it or not. 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.

Cell ID data is different from Location Services, which activates the Global Positioning System to identify where the phone's been.

But by using data from multiple towers, a location can be triangulated within about a quarter-mile radius.

Handsets running the Google-developed operating system collect information about where you have been, transmitting it back whenever they connect to the internet. We use various technologies to determine location, including IP address, GPS, and other sensors that may, for example, provide Google with information on nearby devices, Wi-Fi access points and cell towers. Although the location data was encrypted, it could have opened an unexpected hole in an already vulnerable system.

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