Android phones and tablets have been gathering the addresses of nearby cellular towers and sending the encrypted data to Google, even if you’ve turned off location services, according to a report.
An investigation has unveiled that Android devices send cell tower location data to Google they’re connected to the internet, even if you take all of those precautions.
Each time Android devices including devices with no SIM cards with a wi-fi connection or a cellular data comes within range of a new cell tower they send the data to Google.
A company spokesperson said that since January, the cell tower location data gathering has been going on and that data were added in information sent to the system it uses to manage Google’s push notifications and messages on Android devices.
“In January of this year, we started looking into using Cell ID codes as an additional signal to further improve the speed and performance of message delivery,” the Google spokesperson said.
However, Google never incorporated Cell ID into its network sync system, so it ultimately discarded the cell tower data updated it to no longer request Cell ID.
According to several sources, Google included the cell tower data-collecting technique to improve its Firebase Cloud Messaging, where devices have to ping the server at a predefined time in order to receive messages immediately.
Google Policy reads that it uses several technologies including IP address, GPS, and other sensors to determine the location and it provides information on nearby devices, Wi-Fi access points, and cell towers.