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Google tracks Android users even with location services turned off Featured

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Google has been tracking Android users even if they had location tracking turned off and did not have a SIM in their smartphones, according to a published report.

Asked about this by the website Quartz, Google admitted that it did indeed track such users, even if they had not used any apps on the phone.

Even phones that were restored to factory default settings were spied on by Google in this manner, according to the Quartz report.

It said that since the beginning of the year, Android phones had been reporting the location of mobile towers to Google even when location services were turned off on the device.

Google said that the addresses of these towers were used to send notifications and messages to Android phones but claimed that they were not stored. It added that it would end the practice by the end of November.

“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,” a Google spokesperson said. “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's privacy policy says: "When you use Google services, we may collect and process information about your actual location. We use various technologies to determine location, including IP address, GPS, and other sensors that may, for example, provide Google with information on nearby devices, Wi-Fi access points and cell towers."

Nothing was said about collecting location data when location services was turned off.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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