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 company has now firmly held its red hands high, stating that it will stop this data collection and find another way to improve its services.
This information was revealed by Quartz, which uncovered that these data collection practices have been taking place since the beginning of 2017, whether users opt out of location tracking services or even removing their SIM card entirely. So long as the device was connected to the internet, Google would push past the bounds of privacy by pinpointing nearby cell tower addresses.
“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,” the Google spokesperson said in an email to Quartz. “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.”
Not only has Google stated that it has never kept the data, but Android devices will no longer send cell tower data to the company without consent.
This is not the first time that data collection concerns have been raised as more companies seem to be hoovering up unnecessary amounts of information that breach its user’s privacy. Moreover, it’s usually in secret.
While this data is usually encrypted, it raises concerns for those who would be at risk from being tracked, with Quartz providing examples of “law-enforcement officials or victims of domestic abuse” who would otherwise feel safe just by turning off the location services. This is data that could end up in wrong, third-party hands.
KitGuru Says: It’s any wonder that customers still trust companies as each one tends to do as it pleases without repercussion until its caught. While I’m not surprised by the move, it still irks me.