Google tracking causes data privacy concerns among Android Smartphone Users


Google has started tracking its Android smartphone users location through cell phone towers from the beginning of this year. But the company now claims that it has stopped this practice from October 2017 as it is causing data privacy concerns to billions of its users across the globe.

Quartz Media, a business unit of Atlantic Media was the first to find the details on this issue. The publication recently posted that Google is gathering location data of its users via cell towers and is sending it back to its servers for analytical purposes. And this was taking place without the user’s consent and even if they opted out of the location settings on their respective phones.

Quartz report says that almost all smartphones using the Lollipop and preceding android versions were into the practice of collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers since the beginning of this year. 

In a technical statement issued early today, Google admitted that it was indulging in such practices to ensure messages and notifications are passed on to users on a quick note. Google engineers said that all smartphones operating on a modern version of Android use a network sync system that requires the use of Mobile Country Codes (MCC) and Mobile Network Codes ( MNC). In order to further improve the message delivery service, Google started using Cell ID Codes as additional resources for tracking the location of its users.

Its said that by doing so, Android phones are in constant touch with Google servers using a system called as Firebase Cloud Messaging.
As cell ID codes can be used as a unique number that identifies a cell tower among many, it was being used by Google as tracking variant to locate a device.

But as soon as Quartz report emerged out saying that the practice was causing data privacy concerns among Android users, Google is said to have stopped the tracking ability of smartphones through cell towers.

Google has also mentioned in its statement that Cell ID Codes were never stored on its network sync system and were immediately discarded. The Web search giant also assured that the tracked data was never used by its advertisers to target users based on their geographic whereabouts.

The internet juggernaut further stated that after putting an end to the tracking of Cell ID Codes, it has again started using MCC and MNC for delivering messages and notifications.

Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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