Android devices send your location to Google even when services are off


However, the problem is that Google tracks the locations of users who turned off location services and even those who didn't have a SIM card in their devices. Google accesses and tracks your location data even if you turn off location services.

However, it appears that Google hasn't been playing nice, and has been harvesting location data of nearby cell towers from Android users - giving Google access to your daily travails - even when location sharing has been disabled within the operating system. The data on cell towers is sent to the system that manages communications and push notification.

"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", a Google spokesperson said.

The company claims that the data was never incorporated into its systems and was immediately discarded. The company says the data was never stored on its servers.

An update that removes this cell tower data-collecting feature will roll out by the end of this month, according to Google. In both cases, it's reasonable to assume users weren't expecting Google to be collecting this data. That data is then sent back to Google, which may be an invasion of privacy, the report says.

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This isn't the first time Google's run into issues where it's failed to clearly inform users on what kind of data it's collecting and how it's doing so, and it definitely won't be the last.

Google has been caught tracking smartphone owner's whereabouts even when they have switched off their location services. But knowing the address of at least three nearby cell towers could result in the exact location of that device via a method known as triangulation. By the end of November, the company said, Android phones will no longer send cell-tower location data to Google, at least as part of this particular service, which consumers can not disable.

Some researchers have said that although the data is encrypted, it is possible to send the data to third party services if the handset is affected with spyware.

However, a source reportedly told Quartz that Google added in the collection of cell tower addresses as an improvement for its Firebase Cloud Messaging. According to Quartz, they do this whenever they are connected to a Wi-Fi network. There is a lot that people can learn about you from your location data.