Google is the latest to find itself in the middle of privacy related issues. The company has been caught tracking users’ locations without their knowledge and with no way to opt out of the system. According to a report by Quartz, Google collected cell tower addresses from Android phones without informing users about the same. The report explains that unlike Android’s usual location services, there’s no way to opt out of this particular one.
What’s particularly alarming is that Google can collect data from a user, even if the phone doesn’t have a SIM card inside or isn’t connected to the Internet.
The company reportedly started collecting data from January this year. The data was encrypted and sent to Google’s push notifications and messaging management system whenever a phone was connected to the Internet. What’s particularly alarming is that Google can collect this data even if the phone doesn’t have a SIM card inside or isn’t connected to the Internet.
A spokesperson from Google told The Verge that Cell ID codes are used in the network sync systems of all modern Android phones. The data is apparently part of an “additional signal to further improve the the speed and performance of message delivery”, the company said. The company has apparently discarded the cell tower data it collected and will not be continuing the practice.