Google Admits Tracking Android Users' Location Even If Location Services are Turned Off

Nick Kangadis | November 21, 2017
Font Size

Do you ever feel like your technology is spying on you? Your fears are well founded, because they are.

Quartz Media launched an investigation into Android phones in conjunction with the information the devices send back to Google, and the results are just as I have always thought.

According to Quartz:

Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers—even when location services are disabled—and sending that data back to Google. The result is that Google, the unit of Alphabet behind Android, has access to data about individuals’ locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy.

The report states that it doesn’t matter whether you turn off your Android phone’s location setting, aren’t using any applications (apps) or the phone doesn’t have a SIM card inserted. You are being spied on.

As long as your phone is connected to some sort of internet connection — whether it be WiFi or 4G services — Android can pinpoint your location and then sends that information back to Google.

There’s no doubt that Google will eventually issue a statement saying something to the effect of, “Google is not using location information for any nefarious purpose.”

The thing is, unless location services are turned on, I don’t want Google invading any part of my life for any purpose.

Speaking of which, Quartz contacted Google, and this is what Quartz was told:

Quartz observed the data collection occur and contacted Google, which confirmed the practice.

The cell tower addresses have been included in information sent to the system Google uses to manage push notifications and messages on Android phones for the past 11 months, according to a Google spokesperson. They were never used or stored, the spokesperson said, and the company is now taking steps to end the practice after being contacted by Quartz. 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 cannot disable.

“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 Google spokesperson said in an email. “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.”

Sure ya are.

It’s pretty convenient that once Google got caught in this practice they claim that measures have been in place to end this practice at the end of the very month they got caught.

Keep a skeptical mind, folks. There’s always a price to be paid for progress.

mrc merch