Monday, November 27, 2017

Your Android phone has been sending location data to Google without your permission

This is intrusive!
Did you know? Your Android device has been sending your location to Google even without you granting permission.

Tech companies like Facebook, Google, and other software seeking GPS permission often seek our location for proper rendering of their services to us. By default, we decide whether or not should our location be shared with these online platforms, even with the tech-giant Google. Sometimes we agree on this base on the terms of service of a company like Google. Currently, with Android and Google, it's as if we are no right to dictate if our location data should be shared.

An investigation by Quartz has made us know that our Android devices do not really need our permission before it sends our location to Google. This is security issue we are dealing with.

According to the investigation by Quartz, it was revealed that devices like Smartphones and Tablets running on the Android Operating System forcefully impose location tracking on the user whether or not the location services were enabled. Even when there was no SIM card on the phone, no app was installed, yet the Android device could still track user’s location, as long as the smartphone was connected to the internet. This is achieved by transmitting the address of close cellphone towers back to Google’s system that's used for messages and push notifications.

But there's a section of the Google's terms of service, which is a bit confusing, it reads:

“When you use Google services, we may collect and process information about your actual location. We use various technologies to determine location, including IP address, GPS, and other sensors that may, for example, provide Google with information on nearby devices, Wi-Fi access points and cell towers.”

This process could be safe, the data transferred to Google is encrypted. It could also be a threat to user's privacy if, for example, the user's device has been compromised by a third party containing malicious contents like spyware or other hacking means which could potentially receive these data.
This is really not a good thing because it seems like Google is betraying the public’s trust.
According to Gizmodo, they contacted Google regards these reports and a spokesperson told them;

“To ensure messages and notifications are received quickly, modern Android phones use a network sync system that requires the use of Mobile Country Codes (MCC) and Mobile Network Codes (MNC). 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. 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. MCC and MNC provide necessary network information for message and notification delivery and are distinctly separate from Location Services, which provide a device’s location to apps.”

According to a claim from Google, the feature never got to be implemented, and the team have all concluded to discard it completely.
However, according to Gizmodo, a Google spokesperson responded to us that by the end of November, Android devices will stop the habit of sending cellular tower location data to Google.

We all know Google is trying its best to make out reliable security and favourable services to everyone who uses any of its products and services, and this is achieved by collecting our data in exchange. But all I'm saying is, whatever Google is trying to implement on us, we should be aware of it and also have the decision to either opt in or out.

Source: Gizmodo, Quartz



I am Charles Omoregie, a unique tech blogger who's motive is to share useful tech tips and impact knowledge to the world. Technology has always being my passion and i enjoy writing articles about it


We love comments.. Share your idea with us on this topic