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google acknowledges tracking user base station location data: even if it's turned off in settings

Posted by bassolino at 2020-02-27

According to foreign media quartz, Android phones will collect users' geographic location data and send it to Google. Even if you've turned off location-based services and you don't even have a SIM card installed, it's sustainable. When it comes to location-based services, it means that some applications (such as Google Maps) need to get accurate GPS data to get the best experience. However, quartz disclosed that Google can still obtain the geographic location information of users through the way of base station triangulation.

In January this year, all Android phones and tablets began to collect information about nearby base stations, and send back to Google's notification push and message management system through encryption. It should be pointed out that there is nothing the user can do about it, because it is factory preset.

In a statement to the verge, a Google spokesman said:

All modern Android phones can use the network to synchronize device time, but this requires' mobile country code 'and' mobile network code '.

After careful consideration, we hope that the additional information called "base station ID" can further improve the speed and performance of message delivery.

However, our company did not implement the initial plan and finally discarded the base station data.

Google has added base station data collection to improve its firebase cloud messaging, a person familiar with the matter said. In this way, in order to receive messages in time, the device must Ping the server regularly.

We are shocked by this discovery, because in general, the base station data is only held by network operators, and only shared with the outside under strict restrictions. This year, however, Google's approach allows a person to be accurately located by multiple base stations within a quarter mile radius.

For those users who do not want to be tracked, this will have a specific security impact on them, and hackers can also use this to set a larger goal of obtaining personal information. Fortunately, Google said it would remove the base station information collection feature in an update later this month.

Unfortunately, at the time of publication, Google's terms of service described similar situations rather vaguely:

When you use Google services, we may use "various technologies" - including IP address, GPS positioning, and other sensors (such as proximity devices, Wi Fi access points, mobile base stations, etc.) to collect and process information about your actual geographical location.

While Google provides details on how to control access points to geographic information, it is clear that the company can do better beyond the complex guidelines.

[compiled from: theverge]