An investigation by Quartz has revealed that Android devices send cell tower location data to Google even if the user has disabled location services for apps in their device settings.
Quartz also said it observed location data being sent even if devices had been reset to factory default settings. Android devices with a cellular data or a wi-fi connection were seen to send the data to Google each time they came within range of a new cell tower — including devices with no SIM cards installed (these offloaded the location data via wi-fi, where available).
It says there is currently no way for Android users to prevent their location data from being sent to ad targeting giant Google — short of removing SIMs from their devices and disabling wi-fi (or else leaving the devices inside a faraday cage).
After raising its findings with Google, Quartz reports that a company spokesperson told it the cell tower location data harvesting has been going on for the past 11 months, and that cell tower addresses were included in information sent to the system it uses to manage push notifications and messages on Android devices.
The spokesperson further claimed the location data was never used or stored. And Google added that it intends to end the practice by the end of November, having had the location tracking issue flagged to it by Quartz.
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht