Google uses a cookie to geotag Android users

The US giant have collected geolocation of Android users without their knowledge since January 2017. After ensuring that this data had never been used, Google promises to end this practice by the end of the month.

Disabling the location of his smartphone or tablet is not enough to escape Google … The American giant has collected since January 2017 geolocations of its Android customers, its operating system used every month by more than 2 billion active terminals in the world. Google is based on relay antennas used by Android devices during an Internet connection, according to a survey of the US site Quartz, published November 21.

Specifically, the part of Android, which handles the sending of messages and notifications, collected this information without the knowledge of users, before sending it to Google. According to the Mountain View firm, this aggregation of data would improve “the speed and performance of routing messages.” The information would never have been used, or even stored, according to Google. The US company is committed to stopping collection by the end of the month.

Data collected without use of Google services
Relay antenna information used by a phone is less accurate than GPS data. If only one relay antenna is detected, the geolocation of the user will be coarse. On the other hand, if several close relay antennas delimit a sector, as in the big cities for example, then the position of the user can be relatively precise.

In its privacy policy, the US giant recognizes the right to collect information “about the services you use and the use you make of them.” Examples: when you watch a video on YouTube or when you go on a website on which our advertising services are used. ” The type of data collected is very wide, ranging from the user’s phone number to the “exact position” of the user.

“We use different technologies to locate you, including IP address, GPS signals, and other sensors that allow us to identify nearby devices, WiFi access points, and relay antennas.”

But in this case, the data was compiled even though the user had disabled the geolocation features and without using Google services. Moreover, it was impossible to block this collection, according to Quartz.

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