by Graham Pierrepoint
We’re all concerned about being watched – privacy has never been a more prevalent nor relevant topic in the news and on the world stage right now, and in a world where news regarding Facebook requesting nude pics to fight revenge porn sounds almost reasonable, it’s perhaps come of no surprise to the more sceptical among us that millions of us may be getting tracked without our knowledge, even if we haven’t laid down such consent. The perpetrator of such tracking on this occasion is Google – who has confirmed that they have been receiving certain tracking data from Android devices – even when location services are disabled by the user.
Google’s confirmed that such tracking may cease as of the end of November – but it’s emerged that the Android system in each device has been reporting cellphone mast locations back to the company regardless of whether you have a SIM in place or if you have location services enabled. Location services, of course, are popularly used to help users find local recommendations, use map services and more – but may privacy-conscious people prefer to leave this setting well alone as it can be used for targeted advertising. The fact that our phones may have been able to report our location without our knowledge or consent is rather bothersome - regardless whether or not some of the more sceptical of us ‘saw it coming’.
Watch: Google collects Android users' location data all the time ▶
The big G's explanation implied that such reporting has occurred in an effort to improve messaging quality – though, as some sources state, the benefit of having a mast’s address to make such improvements isn’t especially obvious.
While most smartphone users will likely already be well aware that a certain degree of privacy protection is to be waived if some services are to be used – but it is still expected that we are to have some form of control over the data we wish to submit and make public for a variety of purposes. You can only safeguard your data so much – but many users expect manufacturers and developers to protect their rights in return.
Watch: Google Tracks Android Location Info Even If Setting Disabled ▶