Sci-tech

Google has been tracking your smartphone's location ALL YEAR

Google has been tracking your smartphone's location ALL YEAR

According to Quartz, Android phones have been recording cellular addresses (or "Cell ID codes" as Google calls them) from cellular towers even if users have disabled the "Location Services" setting that accesses the Global Positioning System to pinpoint where the device has been. So long as the device was connected to the internet, Google would push past the bounds of privacy by pinpointing nearby cell tower addresses.

However, Google claims the data was never used or stored, stating it was originally meant to help improve message delivery speeds.

For the past 11 months, devices running on Android software have been sending "Cell ID codes", which contain data on the addresses of nearby cellular towers, to Google, according to a report from 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", the company said in a statement to The Sun.

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"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", the source said.

We all know that smartphones and other mobile devices might use your location to expand the capabilities of various apps and services. It allows Google to identify users' preference and then shows advertisements based on areas that users are more interested in.

This activity continued by using the same mechanism that Google uses to transmit notifications and messages to users. Companies can use phone data to track when someone enters a certain store.

By the end of November, Android handsets will stop sending cellular tower location data to Google for this objective, the company says.

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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.

It's unclear if Google would have moved towards discontinuing this unhanded location data collection if Quartz had not found it out and contacted them.

However, it does seem to broadly comply with Google's privacy policy, which warns that "When you use Google services, we may collect and process information about your actual location". The data provides a way to categorize and label people (sometimes in unflattering terms) such as: financial newsletter subscriber, allergy sufferer, "financially challenged", Twitter user with more than 250 friends, and "working-class moms". Google's entire business is built on extensive amounts of data.

Most phone makers or app developers record user data at some point to fine tune their services for a better user experience.

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