If reports circulating on the internet are true and you use an Android device, then your location is allegedly being continuously monitored by Google. It is being claimed that Google has been mysteriously collecting location data of nearby cellular towers since early 2017, even if you have turned off your location service.
The report by Quartz revealed that Google has been allegedly doing this since they changed to the Firebase Cloud Messaging service.
This service is owned by Google and is used to reduce the time taken for delivering a message when the signal strength is low.
Quartz observed that cell tower addresses are included in the information sent to Google's system which has been managing push notification and messages on Android devices since the last 11 months. Google has claimed that the data is encrypted and is not being used. However, the report claimed the data can be easily decrypted using a third-party malware.
A Google spokesperson, in an email to Quartz, claimed, "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. 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.”
The report claimed that even though information about a single cell tower cannot be used to track an individual, a group of cell-towers can be used to triangulate a person's location quite accurately.
Also, Quartz claims that the location-sharing practice has been employed on all modern day Android devices to collect cell tower addresses. This information comes in the backdrop of several lawmakers who are concerned that companies such as Google and Facebook are misusing a lot of personal data to promote their advertising campaigns. However, the report claims that Google will no longer take send cell-tower location data from Android phones by the end of November.
Updated Date: Nov 22, 2017 11:45 AM