Google tracks location even if setting disabled

Google следит за пользователями Android-устройств

South Korea's media regulator said Thursday that it would open an investigation into Google's user data management practices, following news reports confirming the USA tech giant has been secretly collecting users' location data from phones running on the Android operating system.

According to Quartz, phones running on Google's Android OS have been collecting addresses of nearby cellular towers - even when location-tracking services are turned off - and sending that data back to Google.

The spokesperson said the collected data was never used or stored and promised that by the end of November, Android phones will no longer send cellular tower location data to Google. Those addresses were included in information, such as Cell ID codes, sent to Google for almost a year.

The benefit of having the address of the mobile phone mast to ensure message service reliability is not clear, but through a process of triangulation - the same used to assist when a user is actively using location services - the position of the user can be revealed down to a roughly 400m radius at a minimum, and often much more accurately in urban areas.

Google said the data was collected to improve notifications and message delivery, and was not stored on Google servers.

The phones did so even when location services were switched off in the settings menu and even when there was no Sim card in the phone. A Google spokesperson said the data was "immediately discarded".

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Data the company pass on cell towers, which are able to fairly accurately calculate the location of users. 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.

Google said it had been collecting the tower addresses for 11 months "as an additional signal to further improve the speed and performance of message delivery".

"It has pretty concerning implications", said Bill Budington, a software engineer who works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for digital privacy.

When you use Google services, we may collect and process information about your actual location.

Google requested the Cell ID alongside what is called the mobile country code and mobile network code, which identify the country and mobile phone operator that the smartphone is using. Android devices never offered consumers a way to opt out of the collection of cell tower data.

Android phones are the leaders in the global market.

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