Google maybe subject to criminal and legal action after the media giant has admitted that it is tracking people's phones around the world even when they turn off location services and remove their Sim card.
In a nutshell, the problem is that for almost a whole year - since January 2017 - Android devices have been collecting addresses of nearby cell towers and reporting them back to Google, regardless of any individual user settings. Adding to this, the spokesperson from Google also said that the data was never stored. However, while these apps typically require the user's permission, there is now evidence that Android phones might be sending information back to Google without explicit authorization. "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", the policy reads.
The report notes that the user location data tracking has been going on since early 2017.
This is not the first time that Google has been caught collecting user data in an unexpected manner. You can't stop it, you don't have to have used any apps, and as soon as you're back on the internet, the device relays data about where you've been back to Alphabet, Google's corporate parent and the maker of Android. The service is is owned by Google and runs on Android phones as a default set up.
However, it does not specify if this is applicable when a user actively switches off location services.More news: Apple's HomePod speaker delayed until next year
A 3D printed Android mascot Bugdroid is seen in front of a Google logo in this illustration taken July 9, 2017.
Every time a device with a cellular data or WiFi connection came within range of a new cell tower, it would broadcast the addresses of nearby cellular towers and send the data to Google.
Beyond mapping services, location data is used for delivering the weather, localised news results, shopping services, augmented reality features and even things as mundane as the ability to pair two different wireless devices simply by colocation. Check out Google's Privacy Checkup page to edit what data you're sharing with the public, your friends or even advertisers.
The Cell ID was never incorporated into Google's network sync system and all the data was "immediately discarded", the company said.
Quartz explains that this revelation fell into the bucket after regulators and lawmakers are after companies like Google for the user data they possess.