Found new spy feature in Google Android smartphones

26 November, 2017, 02:07 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Virgil Google Tracks You Uber Hacks You			Leon Neal  Getty Images Edit		by Virgil22 Nov 20170		22 Nov 2017		22 Nov 2017

Regulators in the United Kingdom and South Korea consider launching investigations into Google's (GOOG, GOOGL) practice of collecting location data on smartphone users without permission.

However, it has now been revealed that Google was also receiving this data from Android phone users who had a program called Google Play Services - a key component of the operating system - running in the background.

Google told Quartz the information was never stored and it said Android would be updated to stop the practice. Those addresses were included in information, such as Cell ID codes, sent to Google for almost a year.

With user location data, cell towers could be used to triangulate location to around a quarter-mile radius, and even closer in urban areas where cell towers are closer together. Google acknowledged updating its Android smartphone program to send the location information.

The firm admitted it has been using customers' phones to find out where masts are sited, even if they have removed the Sim card or switched off location functions. By the end of November, the company said, Android phones will no longer send cell-tower location data to Google, at least as part of this particular service, which consumers can not disable.

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Data the company pass on cell towers, which are able to fairly accurately calculate the location of users.

Devices with cellular data or WiFi connection appeared to send data each time they were in range of a new cell tower.

These probes come after a report found that Android phones collected addresses of cellular towers nearby.

One privacy advocate described the finding as a "betrayal" of users. "We tested technology to improve the quality of our message services, and that included a capability that allows sending Google's servers smartphone information that was recently transmitted to towers", Google Korea explained. Android phones no longer request Cell ID codes, and the collection should be ended in November, said Google.

According to the Google spokesperson, the company's system that controls its push notifications and messages is "distinctly separate from Location Services, which provide a device's location to apps". "It seems quite intrusive for Google to be collecting such information that is only relevant to carrier networks when there are no SIM card or enabled services". According to the country's data regulations, collecting a user's locational data without due consent is illegal and subject to fines and punishment.


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