As we all know, that mobiles in our pockets can track our every move if we opt in. But, if you thought you were completely disconnected from any location tracking when you disable GPS or turn off location services, you’d be wrong!
What if we tell you that even if you actively turned off your location services and mobile data, disabled any apps, and haven’t even inserted a carrier SIM card, it won’t stop Google from knowing where you are? Yes, the phones running Android software gather data about your location and send it back to Google when they are connected to the internet, a Quartz investigation has revealed.
The search engine giant has been gathering data about your location endlessly and sending it back to their servers when your device re-connects to the internet. Google has also confirmed the same.
As per Google, it has been able to track the location of Android users via the addresses of local mobile phone masts (called Cell ID) that was being sent to Google servers, even when location services were turned off and no SIM cards installed.
The company started looking into Cell ID codes since the beginning of 2017 to improve push notifications and messaging services on Android device. And the end-users don’t have any control over this tracking. “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,” Google told Quartz.
It’s not clear how the company planned to improve the speed and performance of message delivery with cellular location data. However, by the end of November, Google plans to disable this location tracking feature that uses cell towers, after an update to the messaging system.
Location tracking via smartphones is a common practice used by all the major players so as to provide many of the services expected of a modern phone – such as delivering the weather reports, localized news results, shopping services, etc.
In most cases, it is possible to control the location tracking systems from recording data by enabling or disabling them. But, here, in this case, it seems to be not the same, which is troubling for people who wish to avoid being tracked.