The practice that Google has been employing has potential dangers in that a particularly skilled individual could use multiple cell towers to triangulate someone's location to within or quarter-of-a-mile or closer.
Google says, '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 company claims it did not put this information into the sync system though, which means it was allegedly discarded immediately.
"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", the spokesperson reportedly said. Not only does location tracking use up precious battery life, it's kind of creepy knowing that your smartphone is tracking your every move.
The company also said that the cell tower data is generally encrypted. Google demands that the app must present a unique icon and persistent notification so the user can clearly identify it. Google has also asked app owners to make these changes in the app in 7 days, otherwise, it will be removed from Play Store.
A spokesperson for Google said the data was never stored and promised to end the practice. Google does offer details on how to control Google's location access points, though after reading through the instructions, the company could admittedly do a better job of making this clearer and simpler for its general consumers.
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New details about the length to which Google tracks Android phones surfaced today from Quartz, which reports that Android phones will track your location even if you disable location services and even if you aren't logged into the phone. How?
Google told Quartz when confronted with the information that it had been getting the cell tower information from Android devices for the past 11 months.
However, Google said that apps would not have access to the data. The cell tower addresses were part of this information being sent to that system.
Even with the update that will remove the cell tower data collection, Google's terms of service still remain relatively vague and could open users up to other methods of tracking.
This is a troubling practice to be engaged in, no matter how temporary the storage of cell site data.