Android phones Technology

Android phones still track you when location services are off

Even phones that have been reset to their factory settings can tell Google where you are.

Google has been collecting Android phones’ locations even when location services are turned off, an investigation has revealed.

Online publication Quartz observed Android phones collecting the addresses of nearby mobile phone masts and sending them back to Google. The details were collected even when location services were turned off on the phones, no apps had been installed and there was no SIM card in the phone.

“The result is that Google, the unit of Alphabet behind Android, has access to data about individuals’ locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy,” wrote Quartz reporter Keith Collins.

A Google spokesperson told Quartz that the cell tower addresses were included in information sent to the system Google uses to manage push notifications and messages on Android phones for the past 11 months. They were never used or stored and the company is taking steps to end the practice.

It’s no secret that Google keeps track of your phone’s location — many of the apps we use regularly wouldn’t work as well without location services turned on. If you’re concerned about your privacy, you can tell your Android phone to remove your location history from your Google Maps Timeline and stop keeping screenshots of your old searches.

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