Google peeking into your location information even when it is turned off?

Google tracked your location even when the location setting was turned off

Yesterday, it came to light that Google had been tracking users of its Android operating systems regardless of whether or not location services had been turned off.

The fact that a person's location can be tracked by a third party using his or her cellphone is hardly new.

Phones running Android have been gathering data about a user's location and sending it back to Google when connected to the internet, with Quartz first revealing the practice has been occurring since January 2017.

Quartz observed that cell tower addresses are included in the information sent to Google's system which has been managing push notification and messages on Android devices since the last 11 months. "They were never used or stored", Google spokesperson said. They also said that the company plans to stop collecting such data by the end of November.

Google has admitted to collecting the location data of Android devices, even when users choose not to allow it.

Smartphones provide lots of information about us to to companies like Google and Apple, things like our location and more.

However, after seeing that many users are not happy with the service, it promised to disable Cell ID.

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Quartz magazine nailed down Google and got the data giant to admit it had indeed been doing that. This "issue" potentially affects all devices with Google services, with tablets and phones alike sending the same data to Google. Google Play Services are required to access numerous search giant's apps and the framework is pre-installed on a majority of Android smartphones targeted at consumers. What if Google itself is tracking you?

"In terms of the law in the UAE, Google latest admission is of the utmost concern", said Claire Grainger, Senior Partner at Dubai based Naji Beidoun Advocates & Legal Consultants.

The Cell ID was never incorporated into Google's network sync system and all the data was "immediately discarded", the company said.

Meanwhile, the section of Google's privacy policy that covers location sharing states, "When you use Google services, we may collect and process information about your actual location".

Data from a single mobile mast can only provide an approximate idea of a phone's location, but data from several towers can be used to triangulate a device's location to within a few streets in urban areas.

As long as there is a mobile data or Wi-Fi connection, devices will send Google their location when they are in range of a new cellular tower.

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