According to a report published by Quartz, it turns out that mobile devices powered by Google’s Android mobile operating system transmit cellular tower location information to Google even while the location services of those devices have been deactivated. Quartz even claims that even if the handsets have been reset to default factory settings, location data is still being collected. Specifically, Android phones connected to a Wi-Fi network or using cellular data have been observed to be transmitting data to Google every time the devices are within range of a new cellular tower, including handsets without any SIM cards inside.
What is worse is that there appears to be nothing that Android device owners can do to stop the data collection and transmission, except for taking out the SIM cards from the handsets and turning the Wi-Fi connectivity off. To Quartz’s credit, it shared its findings with Google, and a spokesperson for the tech giant has confirmed that the collection of cellular tower location information has indeed been happening for almost a year. The spokesperson further revealed that the cellular tower locations were part of the data being sent to the system being utilized to control push notifications and messages on handsets powered by the Android OS. It needs to be said that Google is fully insisting that no location information was stored or used. On top of that, the tech giant is looking to put an end to the data collection by the end of this month, thanks to Quartz’s findings.
The reasoning behind the gathering of cellular tower location data may be justified in the eyes of Google, but it is another story for Android mobile users, a good percentage of which are already getting worried about the increasing reports of unauthorized collection of phone data. Indeed, the thing that really gets people upset is the fact that something like this has been going on without their knowledge, and even if they knew about it, there is not a darned thing they can do to stop it from happening. And while it is true that the location of a cellular tower might not reveal much with regards to a mobile user’s exact location at any given time, that information can still be used in order to extrapolate more accurate coordinates. For the casual consumer, this might not provide enough cause for worry, but for those victims of domestic abuse, or law enforcement officials, having one’s location kept a secret is critical.
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