Google found to be collecting location data from Android users without permission

Android phones still track you when location services are off

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.

Tech giant Google has admitted that it tracked the location data of its users even when the location setting was turned off. A change in early 2017 to the Firebase Cloud Messaging service, which is owned by Google and runs on Android devices by default, prompted the data collection.

There is now no way for Android users to prevent their location data from being sent to Google, according to the report. The company said it had collected the information to manage messages and push notifications, but it had never used the information nor stored it. Google has also updated its systems to ensure that cell ID information is no longer sent to its servers as part of the heartbeat feature. A Quartz investigation has discovered that Android phones' software gathers and sends location data to Google as soon as they connect to the internet.

According to Google, the company never incorporated cell tower ID into its network sync system, so the data was immediately discarded. To add to this, the latest report from the folks at Quartz reveals that Google is collecting location information from Android smartphones even if you keep the services switched off on your device. As a result, by the end of November, location-sharing will no longer be possible without the explicit consent of the user.

Google Policy reads that it uses several technologies including IP address, GPS, and other sensors to determine the location and it provides information on nearby devices, Wi-Fi access points, and cell towers.

Android phones still track you when location services are off
Android devices have been sending location data to Google regardless of privacy settings

At this moment, it isn't clear the exact use case of the location tracking but it could be used for targeted advertising.

Similar attacks succeeded in the past due to the weak security of various apps and services, leaving users exposed to everything from identity theft to actual property theft.

'Even when we take precautionary measures that go beyond what the average user would do, it appears we can not escape being tracked.

Quartz explains that this revelation fell into the bucket after regulators and lawmakers are after companies like Google for the user data they possess. In today's connected world its quintessential for smartphones to have access to your location, be it for navigation, social media check-in or to use apps like Uber and Lyft.

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