Google collects Android users' location data all the time
Google is collecting Android users' location data.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA — Google has been collecting location data on Android phones, even when the location services are disabled, according to Quartz.
This means Google can access users' locations and their movements well beyond consumer privacy norms.
After being contacted by Quartz, Google said cell tower addresses have been included in information sent to a system that manages push notifications and messages on Android phones for the past 11 months.
According to a Google spokesperson, the data was not used or stored, and that the company was taking steps to stop the practice by the end of November.
With user location data, cell towers could be used to triangulate location to around a quarter-mile radius, and even closer in urban areas where cell towers are closer together.
Even though the information is encrypted when it is sent back to Google, a third party could still compromise the system.
Since January, all Android devices, even with location services disabled, were sending cell-tower addresses to Google.
Devices with cellular data or WiFi connection appeared to send data each time they were in range of a new cell tower.
Android devices without a SIM card, but connected to a WiFi network, would still send tower addresses to Google.
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